Weyerhaeuser, Nippon Efficiency Project Aims to Save 100 Million kWh Yearly

Weyerhaeuser, Nippon Paper Industries, Cowlitz County Public Utility District, and the Bonneville Power Administration have launched the largest industrial energy efficiency project in BPA history and one of the largest energy efficiency projects in the United States to date, at a North Pacific Paper Corporation facility.

The $60 million project, referred to as a “Chip Pre-Treatment Interstage Screen Project,” adds two new components to the Norpac facility. The first is chip pretreatment equipment that treats wood chips with steam and chemicals prior to refining the chips into pulp, resulting in reduced pulp bleaching and brightening costs. Secondly, the project has added an inter-stage screening process that reduces the amount of wood chips going through two stages of energy-intensive refining, again reducing energy use.

When complete, the project is expected to save 100 million kWh per year. The first phase of the project was completed in June 2011 and the second and final phase is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2013.

Norpac – a joint venture between Weyerhaeuser and Nippon – purchases power for its industrial operation through Cowlitz County PUD. Working through Cowlitz, BPA will fund installation of screening equipment between refiners at the paper mill. As well as cutting energy use, the new processes will reduce chemicals used in the refining process, further reducing environmental impact, Norpac says.
BPA will fund about $21 million and Cowlitz County PUD will contribute up to an additional $3.9 million towards the project. The money contributed by both BPA and Cowlitz comes from their respective conservation funds, which provide financial incentives to their customers for the development and installation of electrical energy savings projects. Norpac is funding the remaining $35 million of the $60 million project.
Between 2010 and 2011 Weyerhaeuser reduced its greenhouse gas intensity by over 8 percent, according to the company’s 2011 sustainability report. The report names improving energy efficiency as one the company’s key targets for reducing its greenhouse gas footprint. In its cellulose fiber mill division, the company reduced the total energy consumed per ton of production from 28.7 million BTUs in 2010 to 28.5 million BTUs in 2011, a drop of 0.7 percent, the report says.
Last year BPA began pushing excess power to a local Nippon paper mill as its wind farms were regularly creating more power than it could handle. Nippon’s Port Angeles, Wash., plant generally runs its pulping machine at its most energy-efficient rather than its fastest speed, meaning that there is regularly the potential to use more energy and pulp paper at a faster rate. As excess power comes into BPA’s system, the utility makes a call to Nippon and the pulper is run faster, soaking up the additional energy.
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