Powering Up to Power Down
Georgia-Pacific uses more than 300,000 billion Btu of energy annually to operate its plants and mills in North America. Combine that with unpredictable energy markets and changing government rules and regulations, and it’s easy to see why GP is focused on company-wide efforts to reduce energy use and increase energy efficiency.
These efforts range from reducing waste by fixing leaks and improving equipment maintenance to making process adjustments that sustainably cut down on total energy use.
While each facility is developing its own energy strategy, a key to the company’s progress so far has been sharing knowledge about what’s working.
Employees at GP’s Tacoma, Wash., and Las Vegas, Nev., gypsum facilities have been working together to help each operation improve energy efficiency. So far, the Tacoma team has reduced energy and gas use by 10 percent, while the Las Vegas team has reduced boiler natural gas use by 50 percent.
GP uses a variety of energy sources to run our plants and mills. The company’s biggest energy source continues to be biomass – bark, wood residues and by-products from pulping – which currently accounts for about 60 percent of our total energy use. GP alone is responsible for more than 12 percent of the electricity generated from renewable woody biomass in the United States. While we use most of this renewable energy, we also support renewable energy development by selling some of it in the form of renewable energy certificates.
And we continue to look for ways to increase our use of this renewable energy source. GP Cellulose mills at Perdue Hill, Ala., and New Augusta, Miss., run almost all their mill processes using biomass fuel, and the cellulose mill in Brunswick, Ga., has successfully run its pulp machines and dryers fossil-fuel-free for increasingly longer periods of time.
Little fixes add up to big savings
For GP, each 10 percent reduction in energy use is worth more than $100 million in savings based on current consumption. In energy terms, that reduction will free up enough Btu of energy to potentially power more than 300,000 homes.
The company is also part of an effort by the American Forest & Paper Association to achieve an industry-wide goal of improving energy efficiency in purchased energy use by at least 10 percent from 2005 to 2020.