Our Place in the New Energy Ecosystem

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PRACTICES AND PERSPECTIVES

Every generation efficiency has been greatly improved at pulp and paper mills, and reality may be outpacing perceptions of the major industrial facilities. Carlo Dal Monte, Vice President of Energy and Business Development at Paper Excellence, explains more in the video below.

 

Pulp and paper manufacturing takes a lot of energy. But fortunately, we can generate much of our own electricity, mainly from carbon-neutral biomass. Several of our mills in British Columbia even sell clean electricity back to provincial grid operators, and this is also part of the re-opening vision for our Prince Albert mill in Saskatchewan.

Energy efficiency, and self-generation of electricity where feasible, significantly influence our cost structure and environmental impact and are top priorities at our mills. So is continuous innovation, especially given how quickly and completely the broader energy landscape is transforming.

So what role might our mills play in the dramatically different low-carbon energy ecosystems of tomorrow? Various new pathways and opportunities could emerge – two of which are outlined below – and our energy experts are tracking the relevant trends, technologies and policy implications.

Back Off Burning – Today, we generate electricity from biomass by burning it. But biomass can also be converted, or effectively upgraded, into gaseous fuels. These burn cleaner, have a higher energy density, and provide greater flexibility of use in both conventional equipment – potentially including such things as lime kilns – and in alternatives such as fuel cells. BC’s provincial climate action plan targets a 15 per cent blend of renewable gases in its natural gas mix by 2030, and forest biomass will have to play a role to meet this aggressive goal.

Harness Hydrogen – Much of the hope for a truly clean energy future hangs on harnessing abundant and clean-burning hydrogen. The unresolved riddle is how to cost-effectively extract hydrogen from water through electrolysis. It remains to be seen which existing industrial facilities may eventually host such processes. But pulp and paper mills would have potential advantages, including their need for oxygen as a process input – meaning they can extract value from what others would have to vent as a byproduct.


Source: Paper Excellence