Two paper mills advance cogeneration projects

By Bryan Sims
In an effort to achieve carbon neutrality, two of the nation's premier forest products and paper manufacturing companies are developing biomass cogeneration strategies.

Hamilton, Ohio-based Smart Papers, one of the oldest continuously operating paper mills in North America, which makes premium coated and uncoated printing papers for businesses and consumers, has begun construction of a $30 million high-efficiency cogeneration facility adjacent to its Hamilton operation. The 40-megawatt facility will use biomass such as wood waste and short-fiber cellulosic residuals to generate electricity and steam. The project will consist of four turbines, two condensers, a cooling tower and auxiliary equipment.

Honeywell International supplied Smart Papers' cogeneration system and is supervising the construction of the facility. According to Smart Papers Chairman Tim Needham, construction began in late April and is expected to be complete by the spring of 2009. He said 40 percent of the project will be bought and sold on the open market as monetized carbon credits. "It makes a good business proposition," he said. "Carbon-neutral paper is really the future of the industry, and for us to be able to sell credits on them is also a double-positive."

Meanwhile, Simpson Tacoma Kraft Co. LLC, one of Washington's oldest forest products companies, intends to bring on line a 55-megawatt, $100 million biomass cogeneration facility. It will use wood residuals and black liquor from its pulping process to produce internal electricity and steam to power its pulp and paper mill operations in Tacoma, Wash. The project, slated to begin commercial operation by August 2009, would be the largest cogeneration project built in the United States in the past decade, according to the USA Biomass Producers Alliance.

Simpson Tacoma Kraft plans to sell the power output to Iberdrola Renewables (formerly PPM Energy), a leading wind energy, power and gas provider headquartered in Portland, Ore. Tacoma Power, the region's leading electric utility, will provide transmission service to Iberdrola Renewables for the renewable power purchased from Simpson Tacoma Kraft.

According to Simpson spokesman Dave McEntee, the company will upgrade its existing boilers to higher pressures to accommodate a steam turbine that will be added to the process.

"Much of the biomass-the wood residuals-for this project come from our sawmill operation," McEntee said. "So, it's integrated with our business, where we make the fuel that makes the steam that makes the power."