Though Fortress Paper will spend the next year converting their newly acquired mill in Thurso, Quebec from an ordinary pulp mill to a specialty cellulose manufacturer, the Vancouver-based paper company also has other plans in store for the mill.
Part of Fortress’s multi-million dollar conversion plan (around 40 per cent to be precise) will see the development of a cogeneration plant on site that will generate energy both for the mill and for the province of Quebec.
So what exactly is a cogeneration plant, and how does it work?
Also known as combined heat and power (CHP), cogeneration takes the by-product heat used in manufacturing and converts it to energy.
In a pulp mill such as the one in Thurso, heat and steam are a prime component of the pulping process used to cook and dry the pulp. A cogeneration facility allows the expendable resources – the excess coming from this process – to be captured and converted into energy. Whereas conventional power plants would simply emit this heat, letting it rise into the atmosphere, cogeneration actually retains this heat.
Mill waste can also be used to create energy. Instead of dumping the waste, cogeneration facilities can actually burn it off and use the heat, again for energy.
The converted energy can be used to pump power back into the mill, or – in some cases – sold to external buyers. Fortress’s plans for the Thurso mill sees them doing both.
Cogeneration and Thurso
Fortress Paper is no stranger to recycling steam for the sake of energy. At their Landqart Mill in Switzerland where the company produces security paper such as banknotes and passports, steam travels 7km from a nearby refuse incineration plant to help power the Swiss mill.
At Thurso, the heat and steam won’t have to travel as far. All of the energy will be produced on-site.
Using excess heat from the cellulose manufacturing process and from mill waste (and waste from other mills that will be imported to the facility), Fortress plans to build a 25-megawatt cogeneration plant at the Thurso mill that would see roughly 18.8 of those net megawatts exported to service the province of Quebec power grids over a 15-year term, though some of that energy will also be used to power the Thurso mill and its operations.
Fortress intends to spend around $62 million on the cogeneration plant at the Thurso site, and expects to have it running by late 2012.
Fortress Paper: “Specialty Cellulose Inc.”
Fortress Paper Announces an Acquisition to Enter the Specialty Cellulose and Bio-Energy Sectors
The Ottawa Citizen: “BC Company Steps In To Re-Generate Thurso Pulp Mill”