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Foto:Per Pixel Petersson

Why World Bioenergy is joining International Wood Biorefining Week

As of 2016 Elmia’s World Bioenergy trade fair and conference will become part of International Wood Biorefining Week from 24–26 May at Stockholmsmässan Exhibition and Convention Centre in Stockholm. The new arrangement is a result of developments in bioenergy in general and the forest industry in particular.

Sweden is the world leader in the development of energy-generating biorefineries. There is a global interest in this field, which is why World Bioenergy will become part of Wood Biorefining Week. Three events will be held simultaneously. In addition to World Bioenergy there will be International Pulp & Paper Week, which is the traditional fair for the pulp and paper industry, and Bioeconomy Innovation Forum, a new event for new and innovative products from the forest industry.

World Bioenergy began in 2004 and quickly became a global event with participants from 80 countries. At that time the growth area in biofuels was in waste products from forestry operations and sawmills. Now bioenergy is so much more than that and Sweden is once again a role model for other countries. The forest industry is driving development because producing pulp and paper requires a lot of energy in the form of heat and electricity. Previously large amounts of fossil fuel were used as a power source. In recent years this has been increasingly replaced by self-generated bioenergy. The forest industry is one of Sweden’s most electricity-intensive industries, using about 18 TWh per year. As a nation Sweden has a large proportion of fossil-free electricity. More and more is being generated by the forest industries themselves.

“Ninety-seven percent of energy consumption in the forest industry’s processes is now fossil free,” explains Helena Sjögren, bioenergy adviser with the Swedish forest industry association Skogsindustrierna.
Decreased power consumption
More efficient processes mean that energy consumption per unit generated is constantly falling. At the same time, excess energy is being generated that can be supplied to the public grid. Waste heat is being used as district heating in more and more Swedish localities, such as Mönsterås, Timrå, Iggesund, Värö and Karlstad. Electricity is also being generated with the aid of back pressure, both for the generating companies’ own consumption and to be supplied to the public grid.

Another method of saving energy
and increasing the proportion of bioenergy is collaboration between pulp mills and sawmills. Sawmill waste is being used to make pulp. In return, the waste heat from pulp production heats the sawmill’s timber drying kilns.

Major investments
Several major efficiency-improving projects are currently underway. Södra is investing in all its three mills. The biggest project is the expansion of Värö mill on Sweden’s west coast. SEK 4 billion is being invested there to increase pulp production from 425,000 to 700,000 annual tonnes. The new process will generate more energy in the form of heat and electricity. Production is scheduled to start in Q3 2016.

SCA is investing even more money, SEK 7.8 billion, to expand and increase efficiency at Östrand pulp mill in Timrå. Production will increase from 430,000 to 900,000 annual tonnes. Östrand will thereby become Sweden’s and one of the world’s biggest producers of coniferous pulp.

More than just pulp and paper
With today’s chemical processes about half the wood raw material becomes pulp and paper. The remainder is used for energy and other products. A number of mills manufacture pellets and the facilities are starting to resemble biorefineries where energy is one of several product areas.
In addition to heat and electricity, liquid biofuels are also produced. They include pyrolysis oil, DME, ethanol and biodiesel. Some of these are under development and others are in full production. One example of the latter is tall oil, which the Preem oil company adds to its diesel and petrol. Waste products from pulp production are also being used in the manufacture of chemicals, materials and even pharmaceuticals.

Together these events will reflect tomorrow’s forest industry, of which bioenergy is becoming an increasingly important part.