tonnes of CO2 potential annual saving.
The aim of the Kabel ZERO project is to develop a climate-friendly way of generating steam for use in the paper industry’s highly energy-intensive drying processes. Energy based on geothermal heat is to be used to dry paper. Kabel Premium Pulp & Paper GmbH plans to build a deep geothermal plant reaching a depth of up to 4,000 metres and with a capacity of 20 megawatts, which is expected to cover more than half of the company’s current energy needs on a renewable basis in the near future.
The project is a collaboration between Kabel Premium Pulp & Paper GmbH and the research institutions Fraunhofer IEG and Fraunhofer UMSICHT for the purpose of developing a steam generation system harnessing geothermal energy to dry paper at the paper manufacturer’s location in Hagen in South Westphalia. A seismic survey campaign and a shallow borehole are being used to assess the geothermal potential of the limestone beneath the Kabel Premium Pulp & Paper site and to draw up a process engineering concept for generating process steam from deep geothermal energy. The project is supported by funding from the EU and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Consuming around 59 terawatt-hours of energy each year, the paper industry is one of Germany’s five most energy-intensive sectors. Up to now, it has covered most of its energy needs through combined heat and power generation using fossil fuels, primarily natural gas. The industry’s enormous energy demand cannot be reduced to the desired extent by means of energy-efficiency measures alone. The incorporation of renewable heat sources therefore makes particularly good sense. In order to facilitate their use, however, technologies are needed that are not yet established in industrial applications. The use of geothermal heat to generate the thermal energy required for the paper drying process in the form of heating steam will serve as a pilot project for the entire paper industry as well as other energy-intensive manufacturing sectors in North Rhine-Westphalia and Europe as a whole.
“Deep geothermal energy has the potential to be a key component of the transition to low-carbon heat. In Hagen, we are working with our partners to investigate the opportunities this technology offers for the paper industry in particular.”
Martin Schröder, Head of Energy Management at Kabel Premium Pulp & Paper GmbH
The issue of sustainability has a decisive role to play in paper manufacture, not only in terms of raw material inputs, but also in the production process, where energy is the top priority. Savings in this cost-intensive area as well as independence from related raw material prices have direct positive effects on production costs. The base load capability of the geothermal energy source means that a certain degree of self-sufficiency can be achieved, helping to increase the future security of the production facility and location.
A biomass plant currently already supplies around 12 per cent of the energy used in the paper drying process in Hagen, with the remaining 88 per cent covered by a combined heat and power generation system that is not carbon neutral. This requires an annual input of natural gas of up to 550,000 megawatt-hours. In order to reduce the proportion of fossil sources of energy, Kabel ZERO intends to obtain a large part of the energy it requires directly on site by harnessing deep geothermal energy. According to estimates, this has the potential to almost halve the location’s current demand for natural gas and thus save around 30,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.