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Increased focus on energy efficiency

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Increased focus on energy efficiency

January 31, 2011 - 14:00
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BRUSSELS, Jan. 31, 2011 (RISI) -Energy efficiency is a hot topic worldwide. Not least in the pulp and paper industry. Businesses, universities and researchers active within the industry are now increasingly focused on energy efficiency. Three years ago, in Karlstad, Sweden, a new international center for energy efficiency, The Energy Square, was started. Since its inception, The Energy Square has served as an important link between universities, research institutes and industry. By combining knowledge and capital, the process of developing new products and services that reduce energy use in pulp and paper industry has been simplified.

A lot has happened in three years. A few years ago there were not many businesses that wanted to invest in energy-efficient solutions if they cost more than the alternatives. Today, that's changed completely.

Magnus Persson, Vice President, Energy Square

World leading expertise

The Energy Square is an important part of the pulp and paper cluster, The Paper Province, which includes 250 companies with operations in more than 100 countries. In 2007 The Paper Province, situated in and around the county of Värmland in central Sweden, was recognized as one of Europe's most innovative clusters. The region has a high concentration of the world's leading pulp and paper companies. Local businesses and universities have a great deal of knowledge, do advanced research and operate specialist pilot machines.

Over the past 10 years the forest industry in the region has invested more than one billion euros in environmental adaptation and energy efficiency of processes and equipment, and to increase the amount of self-generated energy.

Climate and energy investments can be good business, for both the environment and economic growth. This is something we have learnt from experience. But knowledge is widely dispersed and not always visible. The Energy Square's role is to share this knowledge with the world's pulp and paper producers.

Innovations that save energy

In recent years, several new companies that focus on energy savings in the pulp and paper field have started up in the region. Svanberg Bona Officia is a startup company that performs consulting assignments in energy and the environment. Another company is Cleanflow, which has discovered a new technique that aims to continuously filter green liquor, which reduces the need for make-up chemicals and increases capacity. This makes the process more energy efficient. The technology is being tested at Munksjö Aspa mill, which has good experience of creating electricity from waste products. Another important innovation that can have important implications for the pulp and paper industry is a new water turbine, developed by Wipab, in cooperation with Metso Paper. The turbine takes advantage of the energy in high-speed paper machine's process water and can recover 50% of the energy supplied.

The Energy Square helps this type of business to develop. Usually this means bringing people together such as manufacturing and process companies, mills and universities, so that ideas, techniques and research findings can be put into use. But we may also be involved in searching for adequate funding or to arrange for coaching.

Energy focus within the academy

Research and education have also taken a giant step forward in recent years. A new training program in Energy Technology is under development at Karlstad University, where a new professorship has also been introduced. The students pour in from around the world. This includes an exchange program with students from China.

The future of energy saving measures in the industry looks bright. The Energy Square has established many important international contacts over the past three years. International delegations visit almost every week, and some have even decided to stay permanently.