WorldPressOnline First Call - Iggesund Paperboard's new biofuel boiler is ready for operation in Workington, England at a cost of 108 million pounds. The purpose is to supply the mill's entire energy requirements with self-produced energy in the form of steam and electricity.
"This is a radical change of energy source," comments Ola Schultz-Eklund, managing director of the mill. "At one fell swoop we will go from using fossil natural gas to using biofuel, which will both reduce our climate impact and stabilise our costs."
Many nearby residents have seen the impressive new structure being built on the mill site but so far few have realised that Iggesund's investment will also create a sustainable long-term market for biofuel in the local county of Cumbria. Iggesund will need 500,000 tonnes of combustible material annually. As a result the company has launched a campaign to interest local farmers in cultivating energy forest in the form of willow.
"We've developed a package of measures that includes technical advice, financial support for the transition and a harvesting and transport service, all based on long-term contracts," explains Ulf Lofgren, financial director and a member of the team who developed the offer, which was launched under the name of "Grow Your Income".
Britain's environment department, Defra, has identified large parts of Cumbria as being highly suitable for the cultivation of energy crops. The new market for these crops should be considerably larger than just Iggesund's requirements, as it is widely expected that energy produced from fossil sources like coal and oil will become far more expensive in future.
Iggesund's investment is not due to any immediate need. The new boiler's fuel supply is already ensured for several years to come. However, it does take three years for newly planted willow seedlings to produce their first crop.
Already this spring Iggesund has planted its own willow crop on about ten hectares close to the mill for demonstration purposes. The company has also launch a website with information about energy crop cultivation, Iggesund's offer, and how participants in the project can share information with each other.
"We're not expecting Cumbria to become covered by energy crops but we do believe this can be a convenient way for farmers to gain an additional source of income," Lofgren says. "We can take care of harvesting and transporting the crop, and we will be offering index-linked contracts so farmers can count on a reliable, inflation-protected source of income for the long term."