The year 2018 saw a significant increase in the prices of energy commodities.
The rise in the price of natural gas was influenced by several factors: the increase in the price of oil and the particularly harsh winter coinciding with a low level of stockpiles and the low availability of nuclear energy in France, with consequent increased demand for gas from thermoelectric power plants. The low inflow to Europe of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), increasingly diverted to the Asian market, also had an effect.
The price of electricity has risen as a result of rising oil, gas and coal prices and the dramatic increase in the price of CO2 emission allowances, which rose to more than three times the price at the end of 2017.
In 2018, the high price of the energy basket had a strong impact on the cost of the paper production process, an activity that is highly energy-intensive. To mitigate the effects of this increase in energy prices, Sofidel continued to invest in energy efficiency during 2018.
The Group has invested € 1.9 million to install devices that, when placed between medium voltage transformers and low voltage general switches, optimise the flow of current and voltage, thus allowing a reduction in energy in transit without affecting user performance (energy savings). In addition, these devices reduce non-functional harmonics in the system, helping to clean the waveforms, reducing heat loss and consequently reducing stress and wear on machinery and cables downstream.
This investment and the co-generation project at the US Circleville plant were the major initiatives to improve energy efficiency in 2018. Both investments will be supported by energy efficiency bonds, in accordance with the incentive scheme in force in Italy and in the United States.
Self-production of energy from renewable sources – 2018* The emissions avoided were calculated based on the energy source replaced: the IEA 2018 emission factors were used for electricity purchased from the grid replaced by electricity from photovoltaic and hydroelectric plants and the UNFCCC 2017 coefficient for the natural gas replaced by biomass in Sofidel France Frouard and the fuel oil replaced by biomass in Sofidel Sweden.
Sofidel Group energy statement** It should be noted that for consumption by the Sofidel Germany, Werra, Omega, THP, Sofidel America Henderson and Sofidel America Green Bay plants, reference is made to the internal readings, as not all the invoices for 2018 are available.
** Energy calculated based on LCV (Lower Calorific Value).
The total energy consumption of the production plants in 2018 was in line with that for 2017, amounting to 11.8 GJ/t paper compared to 11.7 GJ/t paper for the previous year.
In addition to the investments in plant modifications to improve efficiency listed above, Sofidel also promotes the spread of an industrial culture and management systems focused on energy efficiency.
The certification process for the ISO 50001 standard (Energy Management System), started in 2012 at the German and Swedish plants, was extended to Belgium in 2013 and then to the Italian paper mills, all of which have been certified. In 2016 it was the turn of the Sofidel France plant in Frouard, followed in 2017 by the English plants of Sofidel UK Hamilton and Intertissue Baglan.
In 2018, the last paper mill in the United Kingdom, Sofidel UK Lancaster, was certified. The objective of obtaining ISO 50001 certification for the main Group sites is in line with the European directives on energy saving, in particular the EED (Energy Efficiency Directive), which requires all energy-intensive companies to perform energy audits every four years or, alternatively, to have Energy Management Systems certified by third parties.
Extending the energy analysis to the production chain, it is possible to estimate the contributions of the main stages: cellulose production is the most energy-intensive process, but mainly uses renewable sources to generate the energy required.
Sofidel Group energy consumption – 2018* The data were obtained using the most up-to-date questionnaires completed by the suppliers (95% of the total, the remaining 5% was obtained using an average of the data possessed).
** Consumption coefficients obtained from the GHG Protocol-Mobile Guide v.1.3 (21/03/2005). The percentage of renewable energy was obtained from “Share of renewable energy sources in transport” (Source: Eurostat).