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Celgar unveils its green energy project

Nelson Daily staff

The wraps will be taken off the Green Energy Project at Zellstoff Celgar as the company hosts an official launch and ribbon-cutting for the energy-producing project this Friday.

The Green Energy Project is a $55 million investment in the pulp mill's power production capacity, which began operating in the fall of 2010.

The project turns biomass into enough energy to supply 22,000 homes with power for a year, integrating the forest industry into the provincial initiative to become energy sufficient by 2016.

The Celgar project is the first to be funded under Ottawa’s $1-billion Green Transformation Program and will replace imported energy from Alberta or the U.S. that is generally generated by burning fossil fuels.

The new condensing turbine for power generation is run by steam generated by burning black liquor, a biofuel that is a byproduct of the pulp-making process. Pulp mills use black liquor to generate their own heat and energy.

Mercer was one of four forest companies to sign electricity purchase agreements with BC Hydro in 2009 as part of the provincial policy to reach energy self-sufficient by 2016. The Celgar project is the largest and will be the first to come online.

When the new turbine comes online, the Celgar mill will be not only making pulp but also capturing more than 75 per cent of the energy within the wood waste it uses.

The mill’s installed generating capacity has increased from 52 MW to 100 MW. Celgar intends to use 13 megawatts for the mill’s energy needs and sell the rest, 35 megawatts, to BC Hydro.

Prior to this, the mill had produced up to seven MW of electricity — the energy was a by-product of pulp production — for sale on any given day.

On Friday representatives from the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia, Mercer International (Celgar’s owners), BC Hydro, the City of Castlegar, Zellstoff Celgar and the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada will be present.

editor@thenelsondaily.com