Energy savings incentives for the pulp and paper industry

By Control Engineering Staff July 27, 2006

As an intensive user of electric energy, the pulp and paper industry stands to benefit from cost savings due to energy efficiency. Not surprisingly, the recent IEEE Pulp and Paper Conference (Appleton, WI, June 19-22) included a panel presentation on ‘Energy Incentives and Rebates Available to the Pulp and Paper Industry,’ organized by Baldor Electric Co. Besides premium-efficient motors and adjustable-speed drives, the discussions ranged from regional incentives available in the marketplace, to equipment reliability upgrades, to benchmarking methods for energy usage and conservation.

Panel moderator was John Malinowski, product manager for ac and dc motors at Baldor. Other presenters included: Jerry Aue, owner of Aue Energy Consulting, who discussed support available from the state of Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy (FoE) program and information from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance that provides support for several states in the northwest U.S.; John Medo, energy engineer at Stora Enso ’s Wisconsin Rapids Mill, showing how his company applied help from the FoE program to upgrade compressor systems at his mill, saving on electricity and increasing mill reliability; and Walt Tunnessen, a national program manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—Energy Star program.

Malinowski’s discussions focused on the role of premium-efficient motors and adjustable-speed drives for energy savings, which, used in concert could reduce operating costs as much as 50% as well as provide more accurate process control. Magnitude of potential energy savings is huge, since U.S. Department of Energy surveys show electric motors typically use 2/3 of the total electricity that process industries consume.

“When looking at justification for upgrades, one must look at the life-cycle cost of electric motors and drives, not their higher initial cost,” said Malinowski. “A motor’s initial cost only represents about 2% of the lifetime cost; over 97% is in electricity for operation.” However to maximize energy savings, users need to look beyond the motor and drive, and include the complete system for efficiency upgrading, he noted. “A simple increase in pump or gear-reducer efficiency can result in use of a smaller motor and drive to perform the same operation.” Baldor is an active proponent of energy-efficient motors and a major supplier of NEMA Premium and IEEE 841 severe-duty motors.

EPA’s Tunnessen explained the Energy Star program’s connection to the industrial sector and its intent to form a focus group for benchmarking energy usage to help the pulp and paper industry save energy and lower harmful emissions. One of the most important aspects of Energy Star’s Industrial Focus is the development of the plant Energy Performance Indicator (EPI). This energy-benchmarking tool scores energy efficiency of a specific U.S. manufacturing plant on a scale of 1 to 100, comparing it to the entire industry. “EPI uses basic inputs unique to a plant and provides a percentile ranking of the plant’s energy efficiency, comparing it to the industry’s average and‘efficient’ (defined as the 75th percentile) plants,” noted Tunnessen.

EPA is exploring the convening of an Industrial Focus for the p ulp and paper sector (NAICS 322), which is one of the most energy-intensive U.S. industries. It makes up roughly 12% of industrial energy use and has significant associated greenhouse gas emissions, he explained. “While energy intensity in the pulp and paper industry has declined roughly 1% a year since 1972, some studies suggest that further reductions, ranging from 14% to 35%, are achievable,” said Tunnessen. “The primary purpose of Energy Star Industrial Focus would be to help facilitate greater energy efficiency through better energy benchmarking with a plant EPI and support development and leadership in corporate energy management.”

Frank J. Bartos , executive editor, Control Engineering