By the end of 2011, an Ohio paper mill will have cut its coal power use by half, by more than 50,000 tons annually, by installing combined heat and power to generate its own electricity, according to Industry Week.Instead, it will sell its excess power to the grid.
Instead of coal, SMART Papers will power its own on-site electricity with boilers converted from coal-fired boilers to ones burning cellulosic fuel pellets made of the non-recyclable paper and biomass materials that it used to have to send to landfill. Any excess energy it makes can be sold to the grid, to clean up the heavily coal-dependent Ohio energy supply on the grid.
Last year, under its Democratic Governor Strickland, Ohio was one of the most recent states to pass a Renewable Energy Standard to get 25% of its power from “alternative” sources by 2025. This means only 12.5% has to come from renewable energy like wind or solar, for example.
But that very flexibility is a good thing for the many coal-dependent heavy industries in the state. Co-generation meets that “alternative” energy requirement. It cleans up heavy industry – normally reliant on coal power – and thus the grid.
The bill deviates from most state renewable energy requirements in that the standard allows for power produced from customer-located co-generation systems, which produce both heat and electricity and advanced waste-to-energy plants, such as the SMART paper mill project.
In Finland, the country depends on the electricity supplied by co-generation from companies like this one, that make forestry products and paper, for 30% of the electricity on the national grid.
Finland passed a law in the 1950s that utilities have to buy power from any entity that generates surplus power with co-generation. Now, heavy industry in Finland supplies almost one third of the country’s electricity – with co-gen.
Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.