NZ dairy company highly successful with use of geothermal heat

NZ dairy company highly successful with use of geothermal heat Cow on farm (source: Miraka)
Carlo Cariaga 16 Jun 2022

By using geothermal heat from Mokai for spray drying, NZ-based dairy company Miraka has a 94% smaller carbon footprint compared to coal or gas-fired dryers.

Miraka is a Maori-owned dairy processing company based in New Zealand. In 2017, we reported on Miraka and their use of geothermal heat from the Mokai geothermal field for their dairy processing operations. An interview by Olivia Wannan of with Miraka chief executive Karl Gadon follows up on the success of this pioneering company.

The geothermal dairy plant of Miraka works by spraying milk in tiny little droplets into a big chamber. A blast of very hot air meets with this spray of milk halfway, instantly removing the moisture and producing powdered milk. The use of geothermal heat for spray drying, one of the most energy-intensive processes in the food sector, has given the Miraka plant a 94% smaller carbon footprint compared to a gas or coal-fired dryer.

Beyond their operations, Miraka has become a part of a sustainable circular economy. The dairy plant is located to some of the largest greenhouse in New Zealand that are also heated by geothermal steam. Carbon dioxide from the geothermal fluids is also consumed in the greenhouses.

Waste and byproducts from the greenhouses are mixed with dairy farm byproducts and delivered to a worm farm. This becomes the foundation for a native nursery.

Miraka is also playing an active role in efforts to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from cattle. The company offers a premium farm gate price for suppliers with on-farm management and nutrient plans. This means no indiscriminate use of fertilizers and a focus on quality rather than volume.

The greater focus on sustainability has become a premium for Miraka. Gadon says that the founders of Miraka – Maori trusts Tuaropaki and Wairarapa Moana – were 20 years ahead of their time. The world is now catching up, and the biggest food brands are “falling over themselves” to adopt sustainable practices.