With energy accounting for approximately 26% of Resolute Forest Products' paper production costs, we are always exploring ways to enhance our overall energy efficiency. The energy used in pulp and paper production comes primarily from steam and electrical power. Resolute generates power from its seven hydroelectric and seven cogeneration facilities and purchases electricity, fuel and steam from external suppliers.
In addition to our internal continuous improvement process, the company reports emissions according to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and follows the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and Environment and Climate Change Canada, depending on the jurisdiction in which our facilities are located.
Energy-use projects and other projects that have an impact on energy consumption are linked with Resolute’s carbon management activities and consequently are managed through the organizational structures and procedures described on the Climate Change and Energy page. Data collected at the mill level is aggregated and verified by third parties prior to publication; it includes greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel, steam and electricity consumption.
Optimizing the use of renewable energy sources such as hydroelectricity and carbon-neutral biomass, while reducing consumption of fossil fuels, is a key element of our strategy to improve our carbon footprint. In 2017, Resolute generated 74% of its total energy needs (25,840 GWh) from renewable sources (hydroelectricity and biomass).
Going 100% Coal-Free and Using Less Carbon-Intensive Fuels
Replacing high-emission fuels like coal with less-carbon-intensive fuels benefits both the environment and our bottom line. In 2014, for example, we replaced the remaining coal used at our operations with natural gas, a less-carbon-intensive fuel, in order to become scope 1 coal-free as of April 2014. We also reduced bunker C oil use at our Clermont and Saint-Félicien mills in Quebec.
In 2017, 82% of our fuel energy usage (19,799 GWh) was derived from biomass.1 By utilizing bark, wood residues and biosolids for energy instead of sending these waste products to landfills, Resolute is able to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, as well as the GHG emissions associated with their use.
A small portion of our fuel energy is sourced from other alternative energy fuels, primarily used tires, waste plastics and landfill gas. Using old tires and waste plastics diverts these materials from landfills and recovers the energy value.
Fuel Energy and Electricity Consumption
Using and Producing Electricity
We see rising energy costs and power supply disruptions as risks that must be managed. For this reason, we are focusing on improving the energy efficiency of our mills and maximizing internal cogeneration of heat and power from renewable sources.
Overall, Resolute produces over 23% of its electricity needs internally (owned and self-generated), mostly from renewable sources. The remainder is purchased from third parties. In 2016, the combined amount of purchased and self-generated electricity we used in our pulp and paper mills totaled approximately 11,700 GWh.
We produce electricity at seven hydroelectric dams and seven cogeneration facilities. Cogeneration refers to the simultaneous generation of electricity and steam, which allows us to extract more energy from a given amount of fuel.
We are constantly evaluating and improving our manufacturing processes to optimize energy efficiency and reduce our consumption of fuel, steam and electricity. This, in turn, reduces our scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions and helps to improve our cost structure and competitive position.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) recognized Resolute’s leadership in the area of environmental performance by honoring our Grenada (Mississippi) newsprint mill in 2016 as its top performer for most kilowatt-hours (kWh) saved among its large customers. A three-year initiative to improve energy efficiency at the mill – known as the thermomechanical pulp inter-stage screening project – resulted in savings of 32 million kWh in 2015 alone, and 85.1 million kWh since its inception. The project’s success has reduced Grenada’s refining energy use by 15%, qualified the mill for TVA incentives totaling $8 million, and contributed to Resolute’s absolute scope 1 and 2 emission reductions of 73% over a year 2000 baseline.
Going forward, we will continue to focus on renewable energy sources by increasing the use of biomass and growing our cogeneration business, among other advances.
1 Does not include wood products. Includes bark and biosolids from our water treatment plants, black liquor and landfill gas.