From contributing to a more environmentally-friendly energy economy, to saving company’s money by using in-house energy, to generating revenues by selling off excess energy, co-generation has undoubted benefits for pulp mills around the world.
A new article in Biomass Power & Thermal adds a new benefit to the pot: energy efficiency.
“The ability to produce electricity on-site rather than being reliant on the grid not only provides consistency and reliability…but also reduces grid congestion and avoids distribution costs,” writes Anna Austin, the Associate Editor for the magazine.
Cogeneration is essentially recycled energy. Cogeneration facilities capture energy and steam used in the pulping process and converts them to power which can be re-used both within the mill and sold to power grids.
At their soon-to-be converted specialized dissolving pulp mill in Thurso, Quebec, Fortress Paper Ltd. are in the midst of building a large-scale cogeneration facility that will see the mill export almost 75 per cent of its recycled energy to the provincial power grid.
For Austin, however, the energy saved for the mill is a crucial element as it allows for more energy security on site. A report on cogeneration in the US released in 2008 says that capitalizing on cogeneration could mean a very different energy future across the board.
“Notably, the report points out that while [combined head and power] has been around in one form or another for more than 100 years—it is a proven, not speculative, technology and still remains vastly underutilized even though it’s one of the most compelling sources of energy efficiency that could, with even modest investments, quickly move the U.S. toward greater energy security and a cleaner environment,” she writes.
At their mill in Thurso, Fortress Paper expects to have their large-scale cogeneration facility up and running on site by late 2012.