Cepi Says Pulp and Paper Manufacturers are Innovating Their Way Out of CO2 Emissions

Cepi Says Pulp and Paper Manufacturers are Innovating Their Way Out of CO2 Emissions

The pulp and paper sector has been remarkably successful in separating growth from CO2 emissions for many years. However, it remains an energy-intensive sector. To further its commitment to mitigating climate change, the industry is banking on technological advancements that could potentially reduce energy requirements by up to 80%. There is also substantial potential for the direct deployment of renewable energy sources on-site. Recent advancements have been accelerated by unprecedented collaboration among industry stakeholders.
Cepi, representing European pulp and paper manufacturers, is at the forefront of this movement. Leading the way is the Energy Efficiency Solutions Forum (EESF), a network of innovative solution providers and experts on the ground. This forum includes engineers from companies and suppliers throughout Europe.

The EESF's mission is to expedite the development and implementation of technologies that reduce emissions, identify obstacles to their adoption, and advocate for supportive regulatory frameworks. Notably, the EESF has partnered with the heat pump industry and its EU association to lay the foundation for integrating heat pumps into Europe's paper mills. Heat pumps have the potential to supply approximately 50% of the required heat energy while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions. Furthermore, a recent study indicated that by 2030, around 30% of electricity and nearly 6% of heat produced on-site could come from solar or wind energy.
Nonetheless, the most significant emissions reduction gains in the near future will arise from reducing the industry's energy demand. The EESF is actively exploring various technologies that could be game-changers. These include superheated steam technology, novel drying systems, and the prospect of waterless paper production. One of these innovations will eventually pave the way for substantial CO2 emissions reduction in the sector.

In addition to the EESF, several other consortia in Europe are delving into the potential of energy efficiency solutions, focusing on the challenging issue of paper drying's substantial heat requirements, which account for about 70% of energy needs in paper mills.

Notable initiatives include the German Modellfabrik Papier, a 'model factory' supported by 24 companies, seven research centers, Cepi, and its German counterpart DIE PAPIERINDUSTRIE. Their shared goal is climate-neutral paper production by 2045. Another noteworthy project is the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd's Energy 1st - Fibre products forming program, involving over 40 companies and aiming to demonstrate an innovative 'dry forming' process in a pilot facility.

Compared to many other industries, the pulp and paper manufacturing sector consistently invests significantly in greening its production processes. While not all endeavors lead to the desired results, assessing the business case for new technologies is an integral part of the process. For instance, a recent study focusing on 'deep eutectic solvents' as a means to decarbonize pulp production did not yield the anticipated outcomes. However, it did uncover innovations in lignin production, potentially becoming a major revenue source as an alternative to fossil-based materials in the near future.

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