PKV tests climate protection module

Photo: PKV

Clean wind power is an important building block on the road to CO2 neutrality in our society - but what if there is too much electricity in the grid? Papier- und Kartonfabrik Varel (PKV) is now testing a module that can use wind power peaks to generate steam for paper production.

Varel. When the climate protection module provides steam for the paper machines, this in turn saves natural gas and avoids CO2 emissions in PKV's own power plant. In addition, the electricity only has to be transported over short distances, as our region often generates an abundance of wind power. PKV shareholder Kristian Evers and EWE Board Member for Sales Michael Heidkamp have now presented the underlying "Power-to-Heat" technology and initial experience with this climate protection module as part of the enera project in Varel.

The background to the initiative is PKV's endeavour to produce completely CO2-neutral in the long term. As part of its current strategy programme, the company is investing massively in the energy efficiency of its plants, among other things. The energy consumed per tonne of paper is to be reduced by 23 percent in the coming years. A further modernisation of the already highly efficient power plant is also scheduled for 2020 - here, 92 percent of the energy source natural gas is already converted into usable steam and electricity. By comparison, coal-fired power plants use less than 50 percent of their energy.

PKV has now added a power-to-heat module to these and other initiatives (including the use of biogas and solar power). As part of the enera joint project, the mill is testing how excess electricity can be quickly and easily converted into steam, which the paper machines need to dry the paper web.

Every ton of steam generated by electricity from the power plant or the grid ultimately saves natural gas and thus CO2. The module is capable of converting both electricity from PKV's own power plant and from EWE's power grid. This closes the circle: if there is a lot of green electricity in the grid on windy days, a consumer such as the Power-to-Heat module can flexibly take over electricity quantities and thus make them usable directly in the region.

"We see this proven and uncomplicated technology as another important milestone on the road to CO2-neutral production in the future," says PKV shareholder Kristian Evers. "This of course requires many more milestones - solar energy and biogas, green hydrogen and the right legal frameworks to give room to the energy turnaround. But we are determined to do it."

"The energy turnaround is of concern to all of us, and everyone can make their own contribution. But there is no question that it presents us with challenges. One of these challenges is to avoid grid overloads caused by excess electricity, or in other words: it is becoming increasingly important to intelligently balance the supply and demand of electricity. This is exactly what the paper and board mill and EWE are demonstrating with the Power-to-Heat module," says Michael Heidkamp.