Energy transition

Energy transition is one of our priorities in mitigating climate change. Learn more about our approach and our actions.

 
 

Most people know that fossil energy sources like oil and coal are bad for the environment. Did you know that they are highly inefficient, too?

Take coal: Around 60% of the energy it contains is lost when producing electricity. Such traditional fossil fuels will run out in the foreseeable future and they’re already uneconomical right now. That’s why we’re taking serious steps to help transform the energy system, both ecologically and economically. Renewables such as wind and hydropower and more efficient fossil energy solutions such as natural gas are not only good for the environment over the long term, but good for business today.

A particularly thorny problem has always been how to efficiently combine a variety of energy sources in a stable energy grid. Here, UPM Communication Papers is playing an important role. We’re responding to the challenge of the energy transition through a smart mix of renewable and efficient energy solutions – from water and wind to combined heat and power (CHP). By tapping into a wide range of energy sources, we’re helping to move society toward an energy system that reduces carbon emissions, while increasing grid stability and our business viability.

 

Paper production that optimises energy

UPM Communication Papers’ energy story begins with paper production, which remains energy intensive and expensive. The key to a long-term business model in the face of global climate change is therefore to look at the energy used. Lasting value creation is about energy optimisation. At UPM, we draw on a variety of flexible energy sources to create a solid economic foundation that maximises value for all stakeholders.

The twin aspects of our energy strategy are energy generation and energy storage and transmission. By producing our own energy, we lower costs and directly reduce our carbon footprint. By storing energy in biomass like wood fibre, we are able to bridge fluctuating energy needs in paper production. These two sides to our energy equation are intelligently regulated in an innovative process called “demand-side management”, which brings stability to the power grid.

 

Energy generation

We make paper with renewables like biomass through sustainable forestry. To provide a stable energy supply which complements more volatile renewable energy sources, we also use fuel-efficient combined heat and power (CHP) on our sites. Energy from renewables and highly efficient natural gas ensures continuous and cost-effective production and are the centrepiece of our long-term energy strategy.

Energy storage and transmission

Energy storage and transmission is the backbone of grid stability. It serves to balance out the natural fluctuations of renewables like water and hydropower which can result in disruptive energy shortages. Moreover, it ensures that surging energy needs or spikes in the cost of energy can be dealt with productively. Energy storage and transmission thus helps to guard against threats to the overall supply of energy. To further guarantee that there is a continuous flow of power to our production sites, we utilise a dynamic load-managing process known as “demand-side management”.

Going even greener 

We further contribute to energy transition through mill efficiency. We use the best available techniques (BAT) to ensure efficient and sustainable production of paper. The UPM mills are making continuous strides with regard to our water consumption, energy efficiency and emissions. All our mills adhere to international practices and employ innovative technologies. The UPM Kaukas and UPM Kymi sites are examples of more efficient and thus greener production through plant integration.

 

The power of sustainable forestry  

The sustainable cultivation of our forests is vital to the accumulation of biomass, which contains stored energy from the sun. Biomass is renewable organic matter, which traditionally has been stored in landfills or simply burned. Today, biomass is one of the world’s greatest sources of renewable energy. This is true for businesses, but also their local communities who benefit from any surplus heat and energy. Sustainable forestry is therefore about more than just extracting wood fibre for paper. It’s about providing raw material for ecologically sound energy production that serves everyone. With biomass, it also gives a serious boost to society’s energy transition.

 
 

Energy transition in action

 

Efficient natural gas: CHP (Combined heat and power plant)

UPM Nordland Papier (Dörpen, Germany)

  • CHP requires less fuel compared with other power generation facilities
  • CHP enables the utilisation of more than 80% of the energy content in natural gas
  • UPM invested EUR 95 million in the CHP plant in October 2019
  • The plant produces heat for the entire paper mill
  • Starting in 2023, UPM Nordland Papier will realise over 10 million euros in energy savings annually, while decreasing its CO2 footprint by 300,000 tonnes
 

 

Demand-side management: DSM

DSM allows us to systematically regulate our electricity consumption at any given moment and thus to efficiently compensate for grid volatility. As an energy-intensive industry, we not only consume energy, but also contribute to grid stability through generating more energy than we need. This surplus, which we feed into municipal electricity grids, serves as a buffer for intelligent load management.

UPM Schongau (Schongau, Germany)

  • DSM makes it possible to regulate electricity demand by switching on and off loads according to market signals
  • Wood chips and mechanical pulp stored in large silos act as material buffers to bridge peak periods of intensive energy use and price surges
  • The paper mill can therefore be taken of the electricity grid for a certain period of time without harming production
  • Such “load shifting” allows fluctuations in the electricity grid to be balanced out, contributing to overall grid stability

Similar schemes and mechanisms are used in most of UPM’s mills in all operating countries of our production sites.

 

 

Biomass

UPM Hürth (Hürth, Germany)

  • UPM partnering with E.ON to build biomass power plant at paper mill site
  • Starting in 2022, electrical output will be 20 megawatts (MW) with thermal firing capacity of 87 MW
  • Plant supplies heat to the Hürth paper mill and feeds renewable energy into the grid
  • Fuel will be residual wood from the regional environment
  • Annual CO2 savings starting in 2021 will be 100,000 tonnes

 

 
 
 

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