Investing in renewable energy at Frantschach and Syktyvkar mills

Pulp production, by its very nature, provides the opportunity to attain energy self-sufficiency. We follow the ecologically-established cascading usage principle whereby we use wood to make paper and then burn residues to create energy. It is part of our strategy to utilise the latest technology to optimise this process.

The International Energy Agency* has projected that the biomass share in electricity production could increase from the current 1.3% to some 3% to 5% by 2050, with the estimated total biomass potential standing at 10% to 20% of primary energy supply by the same year.

Our energy-related investments have focused on installing new recovery boilers at Syktyvkar (Russia), Frantschach (Austria), Ružomberok (Slovakia) and Ṥwiecie (Poland) so that we harness the green energy created through recovery boilers.

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How green energy is created through recovery boilers

A recovery boiler is a power plant subsystem used to recapture energy that would otherwise be lost in waste products that were not completely combusted. The energy is recycled to the primary energy generating system to produce more power. In the case of Mondi’s pulp or paper mills, recovery boilers are an integral part of the pulp production process – there is no alternative way of extracting additional energy from black liquor (a term referring to the combination of water and residue such as lignin, left behind from the pulping process).

The black liquor is then burned in the combustion chamber of the recovery boiler, creating heat and, subsequently, steam. The steam drives equipment to transform waste heat into mechanical energy which is then converted into electrical power.

New energy investment at Frantschach

During 2013, a new recovery boiler was commissioned at Frantschach. As a result, the mill has been able to increase its power-generating capacity by more than 30%, greatly contributing to containing the operational cost structure and profitability of the mill.

The kraft pulp process generates by-products in the form of biofuel which the mill can either use internally in energy generation or sell as green energy. From an environmental impact point of view, there has been a significant reduction in Frantschach mill’s carbon footprint, while increasing its energy efficiency. Some 96% of the mill’s electrical energy needs are now met by renewable sources.

Frantschach is now in a position to supply an annual 50,000 MWh of ‘green’ energy to the grid. Gottfried Joham, managing director of Mondi Frantschach elaborates, “We have received very positive feedback from the local government, and the community appreciates that the new boiler now provides up to 30% more heat to the city of Wolfsberg – helping to meet its energy demand.”

Commitment to sound environmental principles

“The successful completion of the projects would not have been possible without our close partnership with the Andritz Group,” says Gottfried. In addition to Frantschach, Andritz, the international technology company responsible for supplying the plant, equipment and technology for the recovery boiler, has partnered with Mondi on other modernisation projects, including at Syktyvkar and Ružomberok.

Speaking of the project, chief executive officer of Andritz, Wolfgang Leitner, commented, “Old recovery boilers are the main sources of air emissions during pulp production in the industry, and Mondi is committed to minimising its emissions through modernisation projects and investments in best available technology. Mondi adheres to sound environmental principles, and is one of the most active companies in Europe in the area of renewable energy investment.”

Syktyvkar mill: continuing to deliver benefits

In September 2010, Mondi completed a phased expansion of its Syktyvkar mill. The project included building a new recovery boiler with a daily production of 3,560 tonnes of dry solids to replace the mill’s three pre-existing recovery boilers. The recovery boiler now fully meets the mill’s electricity needs and electricity and heat surpluses are sold to the electricity grids of the Komi Republic and Ezhva district of Syktyvkar. Total electricity production grew by 12.2% in 2013 in comparison to 2008, with the volume of electricity delivered to external consumers increasing by almost 20%.

The commissioning of the new recovery boiler has significantly reduced the mill’s emissions, especially in terms of sulphur dioxide and dust, which were reduced by more than 90% compared with the period before installing the new recovery boiler. The need to dispose of biomass to landfill has been eliminated. Lars Mallasch, Mondi Europe and International Division’s head of capital expenditure says: “The performance is in line with our expectations. Process improvements constantly decrease the need for consumption of thermal energy – leading to a further reduction in the use of fossil fuels.”