Biomass thermal plant to aid Maine paper mill

By | October 26, 2010

A century-old pulp and paper mill in Madison, Maine, is poised to significantly benefit from a proposed biomass thermal plant to be co-located at the mill site.

The plant will be constructed, owned and operated by Recast Energy, formerly part of a biomass combined-heat-and-power facility and wood chip supply firm known as Intrinergy LLC. The facility will generate about 90,000 pounds of steam per hour. The paper mill will utilize the steam to power its operations, in turn reducing the amount of fuel oil it burns by 50 percent each year.

Recast Energy Vice President Brandon Ogilvie said that the mill currently burns about 9 million gallons of fuel oil per year to generate its steam. Displacing that oil will help decouple the mill’s risk exposure to the volatility of oil prices, according to Ogilvie. The plant will also reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 40,000 to 50,000 tons per year.

Fuel from the plant will consist largely of bark and sawdust leftover from the paper mill’s operations, materials that previously had to be transported from the site by truck. About two-thirds of the 100,000 to 150,000 green tons of biomass the plant will require will be leftover mill residue; the remainder will come from a third party.

In January, the project received a $357,000 grant from Efficiency Maine. The company estimates the total project will cost about $25 million.

Ogilvie said upon being granted approval, the company plans to begin the biomass thermal project in the first quarter of 2011. He estimated construction to last about one year.

Ogilvie said Recast Energy has a similar project that is in the early stages with a food and beverage company, and has two woody biomass thermal projects in operation at a paper company in Mississippi and a U.S. textile company in the Dominican Republic.