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New partnership targets big energy savings

Media release
Thursday, 28 October 2004

New partnership targets big energy savings for forestry leader

Leading New Zealand integrated forestry company, Winstone Pulp International (WPI), has entered into a long-term partnership with Meridian Solutions, a business unit of Meridian Energy, to jointly operate a cutting edge new heat generation plant with the potential to deliver very significant energy savings.

The two companies have teamed up on the launch of the new heat plant at the WPI pulp mill in Karioi, near Ohakune in the central North Island. The heat plant, built and owned by Meridian Solutions under a long term heat supply agreement, will process heat for drying pulp. The partnership also sees WPI secure a 30MW long-term electricity supply contract with Meridian.

WPI Managing Director David Anderson says the alliance is an innovative approach to securing energy supply at the mill and aims to further improve the company’s ongoing energy efficiency and environmental procedures.

“We are always looking for new ways to extract best value from the forestry sector, and once this heat plant developed by Meridian Solutions is bedded in and operating to full potential we expect to substantially cut our LPG use at the site,” he says.

Rather than burning increasingly expensive LPG, the new energy plant, which replaces a smaller bark burner, is fuelled by several by-products – bark, other wood wastes and partially dried pulp sludge, and is expected to produce the majority of WPI’s heat requirements.

Heat from the plant is conveyed to the pulp mill’s flash dryers, which were previously reliant solely on burning LPG. The plant is capable of producing 12MW of process heat.

“Additionally the new plant will enable us to move away from the need to dispose of pulp biomass by-products in landfill sites and to instead use this material to power the plant,” says Mr Anderson.

Meridian Solutions General Manager Mike Suggate says that instead of going into a landfill, pulp biomass residues are now dried and used as a fuel.

“As part of the heat plant project we have also constructed a steam drier, fuelled by hot exhaust gases drawn off the heat plant, to further dry the pulp waste improving its value as a fuel,” says Mr Suggate.

WPI owns its own forests which it mills for the manufacture of sawlogs and pulp for supply to a highly competitive export market. The new heat plant is the latest efficiency improvement the company has embarked upon in order to drive more value from its energy-intensive business.

Mr Anderson says that the heat plant and concurrent upgrades to its wood handling facilities and the pulp mill represent a significant investment by WPI and Meridian Solutions.

“We are adapting to succeed in a highly competitive international market and we are very pleased to be able to partner with expert companies such as Meridian Solutions to address energy efficiency challenges,” he says.

When operating at full efficiency the heat plant is expected to provide a sharp reduction in carbon emissions from the mill by reducing LPG consumption by around four million litres per year, and by ending landfill operations of the pulp biomass which produce methane gas. In addition, WPI has avoided the difficulty and expense of replacing its near-full existing landfill, which has now been resown in new forest.

On the same day as launching the new heat treatment plant WPI is also launching an innovative high value, energy-lean AB grade pulp product developed for world markets. Based on new screening processes developed by the company’s technical team this new product is less expensive in the power it requires and can be sold for significantly higher margins. The new process is expected to deliver an annual electricity saving equivalent to a new 8MW hydro project.

“Through these innovations we are looking to secure our future competitiveness, at a time when the cost of power is becoming an increasing burden on our operations,” Mr Anderson says.

About Winstone Pulp International

Based near Ohakune, WPI has operated for 26 years in forestry, milling and manufacturing pulp and sawlogs for local and overseas markets. As one of New Zealand’s leading integrated forestry companies it plays a key role in the sector’s viability by processing by-products for export as pulp. The company employs 300 staff and has built a strong export-focused business maximising regional resources.

About Meridian Solutions

Meridian Solutions, a business of Meridian Energy, is an outsourced energy solutions provider. Through BOOT (Build, Own, Operate and Transfer) partnerships such as with WPI, it invests in, owns, operates and provides technical and commercial expertise in optimising on-site energy and utility services, allowing major energy users to focus on their core business.

ENDS

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