In a recent article written for Biomass Magazine, Todd Taylor – a shareholder in Fredrikson & Byron’s corporate, renewable energy, securities and emerging business groups – gives a detailed rundown on the benefits of biomass cogeneration in the pulp and paper industry.
For many companies, the decision to create a cogeneration facility on site is a smart business decision.
“Whether you believe in climate change or support carbon cap and trade, one thing we can all agree on is that being more efficient and productive with your existing resources is a good idea,” writes Taylor.
Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to cogeneration. The process not only reduces waste product, it actively reuses this waste and turns it into energy again that is used by the mill.
In a pulp mill, this process can be done in many different ways.
“Pulp and paper companies can utilize black liquor or wood residues, others can use their organic wastes, while still others can arrange to buy biomass from surrounding providers,” Taylor explains.
These recycling methods can take place on both a small and large scale. At Fortress Paper’s pulp mill in Thurso, Quebec, the small-scale cogeneration is already taking place.
For example, black cooking liquor is burned off, generating heat, electricity and/or stream for the mill, steam gathered from the recovery boilers used during the pulping process is channeled through a waste recovery system on site and pumped back into the mill in the form of energy, and refused biomass can be incinerated on site to generate heat and energy for the mill.
Over the next two years, however, a large-scale cogeneration facility will be built on site at Thurso that will allow for much of the energy and steam used in the pulping process to be converted into energy and outsourced to the Quebec power grid.
The move to biomass cogeneration is also a good way reduce a mill’s carbon footprint, says Taylor.
“Biomass power is typically considered renewable and usually eligible for preferential treatment under state renewable portfolio standards,” says Taylor. “It seems likely that reducing the carbon footprint of a sizable facility formerly powered by coal or natural gas by using biomass cogeneration should result in significant savings as well as afford an opportunity to sell the resulting credits in a new carbon cap-and-trade market.”
Fortress Paper Ltd. expects to have their large-scale cogeneration facility up and running on site at the Thurso mill by late 2012. Once it is built, the cogeneration plant will export 18.8 megawatts (of a possible 25 megawatts) to the province of Quebec. Fortress currently has a 15-year contract with the province for this energy.