The US paper industry is one of the three non-fossil-energy industries that will be affected under the Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act; the climate bill being attempted in the Senate; to regulate the industries that emit over 25,000 tons/yr of carbon dioxide. Cement-making and steel production are the other two.
So it would be instructive to see how the European paper industry has fared under the Kyoto-triggered EU Emissions Trading System; providing a real world test-case. If faced with the same carbon constraints as European counterparts; how might our paper industry in the US adapt and evolve ?
If the European experience is anything to go by; they'll do fine, it seems. According to the Confederation of European Paper Industries' 4th annual report; compared with their Kyoto base year of 1990, the European paper industry has reduced its CO2 emissions per ton of paper produced by 42%.
How did they do it?
More than half of the energy consumed by the industry came from biomass (55%) , with nearly all of the remaining 40 percent from natural gas. They also reduced their energy use by upping their recycling rate to well over 66%, and cut their primary energy use 2.9 percent from the year before.
But the big change?
About 94% of the electricity for the EU paper industry is now produced using combined heat and power (CH&P) systems. This is an underused resource in the US. This supplies both electricity and heat from one input, (usually gas or waste heat recycled within the plant). By doubling the output, that effectively halves the CO2 emissions per kwh of electricity use.
The American equivalent of the EU Emissions Trading System passed the House as Waxman-Markey in the summer. The Senate version; the Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act CEJAPA will only regulate facilities emitting over 25,000 tons of carbon pollution annually, equivalent to 130 railway cars of coal.
People who breathe fall well below the 25,000 ton threshold. So do office buildings, apartments, homes, malls and stadiums; in fact 98% of America's businesses and farms are not regulated.
But for the few industrial heavy emitters, I'd expect to see the companies that have pioneered CH&P systems in the US start to see some new business, if we pass similar climate legislation here. Companies like RED and ORMAT.
Image: Green Office
Source: Environmental Leader