On the hunt for energy reductions

Published 11 July 2016
​​​​As an energy intensive business, Stora Enso has also potential to realise energy savings, which reduce both fossil CO2 emissions and financial costs. When scouting for solutions for electricity and heat efficiency, Stora Enso’s energy efficiency team is in the spotlight. “Energy hunter” Vuokko Penttinen gives us an insight into her work.
It all started in 2008 as a three-year cost-saving project. Stora Enso nominated a group of energy experts to identify energy efficiency improvements at our European mills. The project turned out successful and soon expanded to a permanent global operation.

“In a complex production environment, there is always potential to optimise energy processes. Our team’s task is to systematically challenge our mills and support them to use energy as efficiently as possible,” explains Energy Efficiency Specialist Vuokko Penttinen, energy efficiency team member since 2013 and based at the Anjalankoski Mill, Finland.

Today, 36 of Stora Enso’s mills are certified according to the ISO 50001 energy management system, which requires continuous and systematic improvements in energy efficiency. This also supports the company’s commitment to combat global warming and to drive down fossil fuel use over the next decade to get as close to zero as possible. The improvements also result in financial savings – and in an energy intensive industry, even small reductions in energy use can generate considerable annual savings.

Problem solving and inspiring new ideas

The team of three energy hunters uses various tools in their hunt for efficiency improvements. They coordinate and assess the annual investment proposals for Stora Enso’s Energy Efficiency Investment Fund, which granted EUR 11 million for energy improvement projects in 2015. Between 2010 and 2014, Stora Enso’s mills have achieved an accumulated annual energy reduction of 895 000 MWh through projects financed by the Energy Fund – this corresponds to the annual energy consumption of approximately 2-3 middle-sized paper machines.

The team also conducts systematic energy audits at Stora Enso’s mills and coordinates targeted energy saving campaigns. Recent campaigns have focused on vacuum systems, drying hoods, and power plants.

“These campaigns often provide mills with additional improvement ideas they could dig deeper for further energy efficiency,” Vuokko explains. “Following the drying hood campaign in 2014, we are currently running a project at Imatra in Finland: How can heat from board production be better recovered and utilised at the mill? How can we improve energy monitoring?”

In her position Vuokko has seen many Stora Enso mills and their energy processes.

“Our mills are naturally very committed to systematically optimising their processes, and each mill and their energy system is also different. However, at many mills we often find room for improvement in the monitoring of energy use. There we can still achieve a lot with automation.”

Technology meets human behaviour

Vuokko reminds us that energy efficiency is not just about investing in technology, but also about how we as employees operate machines.

“In an energy-intensive industry, technology is a factor we must invest in by modernising and rebuilding machinery. But if we fail to simultaneously work with human behaviour – by developing our relationship to machinery and how we optimally operate it – we can never attain the full potential of our investments.”

And thanks to the combined investments in technology and its users, Stora Enso’s specific energy consumption has decreased by 5.8% per saleable product tonne since 2010, for the best of the planet.

“In a complex production environment there are always many alternatives how to improve efficiency. The best moments are when you find a more simple but effective solution – bring simplicity into complexity.”

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