Current Initiatives

Some examples of our operating bioenergy initiatives include:

Making Energy from Waste Products

Slave Lake Pulp has built a unique energy plant that uses the mill’s effluent (waste water) to produce energy using biological organisms. 

The waste-to-energy plant produces power to reduce the mill’s reliance on the provincial grid (or coal-generated electricity). Slave Lake Pulp’s installation relies on the collection of gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the pulp mill’s effluent. Microorganisms digest waste products in the effluent and their digestion generates methane-rich biogas; this biogas is collected in a huge membrane-covered pond the size of about three football fields, which will then be cleaned and used to power three reciprocating engine generator sets (gensets). The gensets can produce up to 6 megawatts of electricity using biogas– that’s roughly the same amount of power consumed by 4,300 homes for a year!

What makes this particular set up unique is that West Fraser will also capture the exhaust heat produced by the gensets to dry the mill’s pulp. This makes it Canada’s first ‘biogas’ plant to produce energy to run the mill and to capture waste heat to use in the mill’s manufacturing process (this is commonly referred to as a combined heat and power plant). The innovative project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37,000 tonnes annually, which is one reason it attracted funding support from the Canada ecoTrust for Clean Air and Alberta’s Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC).

Generating Energy From Sawmill Residuals

Our Chetwynd and Fraser Lake sawmills operate two exciting renewable bioenergy projects. The mills have constructed North America’s largest biomass power generators. These unique, innovative bioenergy generators - called “ORCs” – are a first for West Fraser. ORC stands for a process called “Organic Rankine Cycle,” a type of energy system that relies on a closed-loop cycle of working liquid to generate electricity.

The ORCs will replace Chetwynd and Fraser Lake's current sawmill residuals burners. The ORC energy systems are the largest applications, worldwide, designed specifically for power generation from biomass. They are an innovative, energy-efficient choice of technology which offers environmental benefits by reducing particulate matter and emissions.

Producing Green Power at Cariboo Pulp & Paper

Canada’s Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program presented an opportunity for Cariboo Pulp & Paper not only to be more energy efficient and improve our pulp production processes – but to also transform the operation as a green power producer. 

Funding from the program enabled Cariboo Pulp & Paper to install a 27 megawatt co-generation turbo generator. The condensing steam co-generation turbo generator uses wood waste to generate power and steam for the mill’s operation. Not only does it produce power for the site, it supplies enough green biomass power to B.C.’s provincial grid to power more than 14,500 homes annually.

Energy Management Innovation at Williams Lake Sawmill

To increase strength and structural stability, lumber must be dried before it is packaged and shipped. West Fraser dries lumber in large ovens, called kilns, which “bake” the wood to a low moisture level. These kilns can be a major consumer of electrical energy.

West Fraser’s Williams Lake Sawmill developed a new automation and control technology that significantly improves the energy efficiency of lumber drying kilns. Fully automated, the system controls all of the kiln’s energy inputs to optimize the lumber drying cycle while maintaining the quality of the dried lumber.  The system is very effective. Just one kiln using this energy management technology saves 400,000 kilowatt hours in one year – the same as the energy use of 36 homes. BC Hydro honoured West Fraser with an Energy Manager Award in 2012 for developing this innovative system to improve the energy efficiency of lumber drying kilns.


Improving energy efficiency at Quesnel River Pulp

As part of a larger environmental improvement and energy conservation program, Quesnel River Pulp installed new heat exchangers that are much more energy efficient to run and reduce the pulp mill’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The project was possible through support from FortisBC’s Industrial Technology Retrofit Program. The program encourages large industrial customers to improve the energy efficiency of their operations.

Quesnel River Pulp’s new heat exchangers capture the waste heat from the wastewater more efficiently and as a result, reduce the demand for natural gas in the pulp drying process. Converting to more energy efficient heat exchangers saves approximately the same amount of natural gas consumed each year by 650 residential homes.