With energy accounting for approximately 23% 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 (GHG) 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 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 2015, Resolute generated 72% of its total energy needs 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 2015, 78% of our fuel energy usage (a total of 21,222 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 22% of its electricity needs internally (owned and self-generated), mostly from renewable sources. The remainder is purchased from third parties. In 2015, the combined amount of purchased and self-generated electricity we used in our pulp and paper mills totaled approximately 12,999 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. In 2015, our operations co-located with our electricity-generating facilities2 collectively met approximately 47% of their electrical requirements using these internal energy sources.
Meeting a significant portion of our electricity requirements using internal sources allowed the company to reduce costs in 2015 by approximately $43.5 million, by generating energy internally at a lower cost and by producing revenue from external sales of some of the power.
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 scope 2 GHG emissions and helps to improve our cost structure and competitive position.
Here are some examples of continuous improvement.
In collaboration with Natural Resources Canada and FPInnovations, we completed a project to identify significant energy-saving opportunities at our Calhoun (Tennessee) pulp and paper mill and Saint-Félicien (Quebec) pulp mill.
We launched a study at our Alma (Quebec) paper mill that aims to reduce steam usage and subsequently lower the operation’s scope 1 emissions.
At our Catawba (South Carolina) pulp and paper mill, we identified ways to optimize heat and water processes.
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.
2 Pulp and paper mills in Alma (Quebec), Calhoun (Tennessee), Catawba (South Carolina), Coosa Pines (Alabama), Dolbeau (Quebec), Gatineau (Quebec), Kénogami (Quebec), Saint-Félicien (Quebec) and Thunder Bay (Ontario).