For us at Mercer, our sustainability focus includes mitigating climate change; we strive to continually lower our carbon footprint while increasing efficiency at our mills. All of our mills produce enough sustainable, green energy to not only heat and power our operations but to provide excess electricity to utilities looking to move away from fossil fuel-based electrical supplies.
This bioelectricity is a clean and easily transported source of energy, useful for most energy-requiring applications, except those that require independence from an electrical grid (such as certain types of transportation). At Mercer, our process produces approximately 1,800 GWh of power each year – enough to power 170,000 U.S. homes without fossil fuels.
Once the cellulose fibres have been separated and removed from the process for the manufacturing of pulp, a mixture of biomass, organic compounds, and cooking chemicals called “black liquor” remains. One of the important attributes of a modern kraft pulp mill is the recovery and reuse of these cooking chemicals; most of which are done in an oxidation stage in a large recovery boiler.
In addition to the recovery of spent chemicals, the recovery boiler produces high-pressure steam. The steam is driven through a turbine generator producing biomass-based, renewable, and carbon-neutral (or “green”) electricity. The low-pressure steam that exits the turbine (once the electricity has been generated) is used to heat the mill and also to dry our pulp. This cogeneration process is a key element of a modern, kraft pulp facility.
Mercer Electricity Generation
We are proud to be producers of high efficiency, combined heat power (CHP). The entire fuel source stems from a combination of waste products, residual forest products, and black liquor which is the waste stream from the process of producing pulp. The utilization of the heat and electricity generated through this CHP process offsets the need to purchase or consume fossil fuels. The high percentage of energy conversion efficiency and sustainable fuel source are recognized and rewarded by most modern jurisdictions.
All of our mills produce more energy than they consume, making them major renewable suppliers of energy for our communities.
Through our investment in modern recovery and power generation systems, we have increased our power sales revenue over the years to over $80 million. In 2019, we produced nearly 2,141,220 MWh of energy, which is enough to power approximately 200,000 households. Of the total electrical energy produced, approximately 59% was used internally to run our mills, with the surplus 41% being exported and sold to the local grids. Our mills have a proven track record of increasing their electrical energy production and sales over time and reducing the energy consumption intensity. The electrical energy consumption intensity for 2019 was 0.64 MWh per ADMT of pulp.
The power generated at our Celgar mill is independently certified as “renewable low-impact” under the EcoLogo® Program’s 2010 CCD-003 Renewable Low-Impact Electricity Products standard, which recognizes environmentally preferable products. EcoLogo is a certification system that verifies sustainable, low impact renewable electrical power generation.