Case study: The modernisation of Coosa Pines, Alabama Pulp Mill – by David Marshall, Project Manager, Sustainability & Public Affairs, Resolute Forest Products.
In November 2020, Resolute Forest Products received the American Forest & Paper Association’s Leadership in Sustainability – Energy Efficiency/Greenhouse Gas Reduction award in recognition of the energy efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction initiatives we undertook at our Coosa Pines pulp mill in Alabama. It is the second consecutive year we have won this category.
The award recognises Resolute’s $4m investment to modernise the mill’s cogeneration turbine, which, in the turbine’s first full year of operation in 2019, led to a 65% reduction in the mill’s scope two absolute GHG emissions – equivalent to taking over 20,000 cars off the road.
Resolute is committed to reducing our absolute GHG emissions (scope one and two). At the end of 2019, we had achieved an 82% reduction company-wide compared to 2000 levels.
We also see rising energy costs and power supply disruptions as risks that must be managed. For this reason, our commitments are focused on improving the energy efficiency of our network of manufacturing facilities and maximising internal cogeneration of heat and power from renewable sources.
Over the past ten years, we have steadily reduced our environmental footprint, making major investments to modernise and optimise operations – significantly lowering the company’s carbon footprint and helping to mitigate climate change. Investments also reduce costs, considering, for example, that energy accounts for a significant component of our production costs. Our $4m investment in Coosa Pines focused on optimising 30 MW of renewable electric power generation capacity through the mill’s cogeneration turbine. The initiative allowed the facility to self-generate nearly 40% of its energy last year, while bringing total energy use (electricity and fuel) sourced from renewable sources, including biomass and hydroelectricity, to 68%.
The modernisation of the mill is the latest step in transforming the operation into a more profitable producer of kraft fluff pulp. Since 2014, when the facility’s coal-fired power plant was shut down, we have invested $42m in capital upgrades and improvements to the mill. Today, the operation is an important global manufacturer of the pulp used in tissue and absorbent consumer products. It currently employs close to 300 people and has an annual production capacity of 265,000 metric tonnes.
Resolute invested in Coosa Pines to reduce the mill’s environmental and carbon footprint, while highlighting and optimising the sustainable use of renewable resources. This innovative project underscores that cogeneration is an environmentally responsible source of reliable, baseload generation. Overall – including both scope one and two emissions – Resolute and the Coosa Pines team are proud our combined initiatives achieved a 75% reduction in the mill’s scope one and two GHG emissions since 2000.
This article was written for TWM by David Marshall, Project Manager, Sustainability & Public Affairs, Resolute Forest Products.