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Report on energy consumption of the EU Paper Industry

Posted By:23/06/2017

As the third biggest industrial energy consumer of the EU, the paper industry plays an essential role in reaching the EU’s targets.

The European Union is proceeding with its sustainability goals, aiming for increased use of renewable energy sources, reducing energy consumption, and minimizing waste. Regarding fossil fuels, the EU is highly dependent on imports, especially Russian gas (40%) and OPEC oil (40%). Even with coal and other solid fuels, as much as 40% is imported from outside of the EU. Wary that insecurities in the market environment might also affect fuel supplies, the EU strives to decrease its dependency on imported fuels. Finding alternative energy sources may become increasingly important to achieving this objective.

As the third biggest industrial energy consumer of the EU, the paper industry plays an essential role in reaching the EU’s targets. Even though over 50% of the industry’s energy needs are already covered by renewables, it is still a significant user of purchased electricity and fossil fuels. Energy costs form, on average, 19% of the paper and pulp products’ production costs. That’s 13 billion Euros spent on fuel and electricity annually. To understand the risks and opportunities in the paper industry’s energy consumption, let’s take a look at the fuel and electricity consumption differences across grades and EU countries.

Energy Consumption Overview

Energy consumption and power self-sufficiency in paper production varies greatly depending on the grade and finished product, mill technology, product recipe, and the geographic location of the mill. 
As Figure 1 illustrates, production of market pulp consumes large amounts of energy, but the majority of the need is covered by wood-based fuels used for combined heat and power generation on site, resulting in high power self-sufficiency.

The biggest paper grade energy consumers in the EU are Packaging and Printing & Writing, where 40% (Packaging) and 50% (Printing & Writing) of fuels are renewables. The power self-sufficiency of these grades is almost 50%, whereas Tissue & Towel grades are highly dependent on purchased electricity and fuels (especially gas).

Annually, the paper industry in the EU is purchasing over 54 billion GWh of market electricity. Given the high tonnages produced, Packaging and Printing & Writing are the most significant purchased energy and fuel consumers in the EU.

Source: Fisher International
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