Paper is an energy-intensive industry and one of the sectors which, in the current state, relies on the use of gas the most. In a scenario in which it is ever more significant to reduce its dependence on gas and fossil fuels, Burgo Group can take advantage of a strategy that has long since moved in the direction of carbon neutrality and diversification of energy sources.
The CEO of Burgo Group - Ignazio Capuano - has illustrated some of the highlights of this strategy, in an interview published in the weekly "L'Economia del Corriere della Sera", on sale since August 29th, 2022.
A carbon-neutral plant
"We are building a green factory, which will be carbon neutral within three or four years and energy self-sufficient. That means that it will no longer use fossil fuels. It will no longer burn gas, it will produce thermal energy from cellulose processing and, with a new twelve-megawatt photovoltaic park, will no longer buy electricity, also thanks to the use of biomass from wood."
The plant identified as a pilot in this green transition is Burgo Ardennes in Belgium, where - in a logic of integration - two production units operate. One is dedicated to cellulose, while the other to the production of wood-free paper, "but - Capuano emphasizes - the Group works on reducing the consumption of gas and the consequent emission of CO2 in all the paper mills".
Photovoltaic and cogeneration systems
This strategy is integrated with different technological innovation measures. Some are already in the pipeline, while others are more in the long term.
Underway are - for example - the construction of other photovoltaic systems for a total of 40 megawatts, as well as the renewal project of the cogeneration plant in Tolmezzo, which allows the combined production of electricity and heat using the same primary energy, with the aim of achieving significant energy savings, with consequent reduction of energy costs and reduction of air and thermal pollution.
Bio-fuel and hydrogen plants
In the longer term, the Group aims to feed its production units with eco-friendly fuels in order to emancipate itself from the use of gas.
"Our machines can be powered with biofuel and thereafter with hydrogen. The turbines are ready. We are waiting for the PNRR calls for the hydrogen production because it must become competitive to be usable and a scale economy must be created".
Finally, it is important to underline that the input that the paper industry can give to the cause of carbon neutrality, and in general to the cause of sustainability, does not stem only from the reduction of the impact of the production phase. Paper, in fact, can make a positive contribution as an alternative material to fossil-derived plastics, in particular through the new papers (based on natural and recyclable fibers) intended for the packaging and packaging of products that may replace the use of plastics and also for the food industry.