WA paper mill to install biomass boiler

By Lisa Gibson
Posted August 11, 2010, at 3:10 p.m. CST

Nippon Paper Industries USA in Port Angeles, Wash., will replace its existing biomass/oil boiler with a more efficient biomass boiler that will supply steam for the paper mill and 20 megawatts of power for the local grid.

The mill has a $71 million budget for the project and plans to apply for federal funding after completing the permitting process, according to mill manager Harold Norlund. The old boiler is burning biomass, but no longer will after installation of the new boiler, he said, adding that the old equipment will not be demolished, but might instead be used as a backup, pending permitting. "It's nice to have it for emergencies," Norlund said.

The wood fuel for the boiler will continue to be residuals from local forestry operations, although more will be needed. Nippon does not own any land, but is surrounded by state Department of Natural Resources land, along with private timber operations. Norlund said the company anticipates securing a supply within a 75-mile radius including two local sawmills.

The company hopes to begin construction this fall and implement the system, including the steam turbine generator, in mid-2012. "We're actually considering selling 100 percent of the electricity to the grid," Norlund said. "Some public utility districts are looking for renewable energy that fits their portfolios." Washington has a renewable portfolio standard of 15 percent by 2020 and Nippon is in discussions with some utilities along the coast for the sale of the electricity.

The system will bring a number of benefits to the mill, including reduced oil costs and requirements, and an overall cost benefit. The fuel handling system will also be upgraded from fuel-guzzling machinery to conveyor belts, Norlund said, representing further fuel and oil savings. But the upgrade will allow benefits for locals, as well. "We believe this could create up to 20 forest harvesting jobs," he said.

The mill currently has about 200 employees and makes paper used for telephone books, newsprint and other custom purposes.