The Richards Bay turbine is one of the Mondi Group's approved energy related investments totaling approximately €170 million, announced earlier this year. Other projects include a bark boiler at Syktyvkar in Russia, a steam turbine and recovery boiler economiser at Stambolijski, Bulgaria and a new recovery boiler at Frantschach in Austria.
The 47 megawatt (MW) steam turbine is expected to be fully operational by November 2013 and will allow the mill to capture the full potential of the existing renewable energy. This project forms part of Mondi's drive to increase self sufficiency and further improve energy efficiency.
"We are continuously on the lookout for new ways of increasing our own energy generation and efficiency" says Ron Traill, CEO of Mondi's South Africa division.
Currently, the mill generates 86 percent of its own electrical energy through a 27MW gas turbine and two existing steam turbines.
Alongside the installation of the new turbine, other improvements in the mill's energy operations include the refurbishment of an existing power boiler and the installation of a cooling tower.
Excess power generated will be a valuable commodity in South Africa at a time where there is a national shortage and the project is well placed to help strengthen the region's electrical grid.
"This project is also a good platform for further improvements in green energy, such as the use of biomass in our operations," says Traill.
The renewable energy portion used to power the turbine will be sourced from a combination of biomass from forest residues and black liquor, which is essentially lignin separated during the cooking process of pulpwood. Mondi is also currently exploring other ways to use biomass from forest by-products and wood residues for electricity generation.
Mondi's previous investments in electrical self sufficiency and energy conservation at the Richards Bay mill include a 27MW Gas Turbine installed in 2006 and an extensive Heat Recovery project which won the 2009 Eskom/Dept of Energy ETA Award.
The main equipment orders have been placed with Zest Energy (Pty) Ltd a subsidiary of the ZEST WEG group, utilising local technologies and products from WEG Brazil, WEG Electric Machinery USA and TGM Turbines in Brazil. Bosch Projects has been awarded the engineering portion of the project.