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PROGRESS 2024: Paper Excellence is building a cleaner future in Port Alberni

Paper Excellence strives for a cleaner industrial future at its Catalyst Paper plant in Port Alberni
Paper Excellence Canada is conducting a pair of feasibility studies designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions at its Catalyst Paper plant in Port Alberni.

Paper Excellence in Port Alberni has been awarded a pair of CleanBC Industry Fund grants totalling $145,000 for feasibility studies examining two sustainable business projects.

The first grant, for $51,000, will help Port Alberni's Catalyst Paper division look at offloading and delivery options for its biofuel. This would include improving efficiency in offloading of hogfuel at the plant as well as ways to increase biofuel steam production to reduce natural gas consumption in its No. 4 power boiler and auxiliary boilers.

The second grant, for approximately $94,000, will help Catalyst Paper investigate the feasibility of power boiler stack heat recovery. This project would ideally see the paper plant install a heat-recovery system in the power boiler exhaust. Recovered heat would in turn offset the heat generated from fuel combustion.

"Both of our projects are designed to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels," said Keith Ellwood, interim manager at Paper Excellence's Catalyst Paper plant in Port Alberni. The studies will also hopefully find a way for the company to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, he added. And if the studies pan out, the processes could be used across Paper Excellence's other plants.

The paper plant has a biomass boiler which uses mostly renewable fuel in the form of biomass, or hogfuel (wood waste). The two funded studies will hopefully make this system "more reliable and efficient," Ellwood said.

"While a relatively small portion of our energy is carbon emitting, our goal is to ultimately achieve zero net carbon emissions throughout our operations."

Paper Excellence's projects are two of 12 that received a total of $32.6 million in 2023 CleanBC funding. To be eligible, applicants must have paid carbon tax and have emissions of more than 10,000 tCO2e per year under the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act. Successful applications are selected through a competitive process.

"British Columbia is well-positioned to lead the next global wave of innovation, development and commercialization in clean transportation," said Josie Osborne, Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA and Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. Osborne called the 2023 recipients of CleanBC Industry Fund grants "wonderful examples of local industries taking action to reduce emissions, while creating new clean jobs for people."

Ellwood said that is the end goal for Paper Excellence, although the two recently-funded projects are in their infancy. "They are still in the feasibility stage. We've been engaging third party engineering firms that are going to work with us, give us proposals and start looking at both costs and benefits of these projects.

"We do have a very high level view of stage one costs and benefits," Ellwood said. "Now it's a matter of let's start looking at a lot of the details required for these projects so we can sharpen our pencil and understand (costs) a little bit better.

"These studies will ultimately help inform our future investment at this site."

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I have been the Alberni Valley News editor since August 2006.
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