Energy and emissions

Energy efficiency is one of the most important environmental indicators for Ahlstrom. Energy efficiency is identified by the input of both electricity and heat for drying processes, divided by the gross tonnage produced.

Ahlstrom is committed to the sustainable use of energy at all of our plants. Our approach is to manage and to reduce the energy consumption while ensuring the competitiveness of our business. These activities have an impact on direct and indirect emissions into the air and the cost of manufacturing.

Our main sources of energy are electricity from the grid, natural gas and purchased steam. Minor energy sources include other fuels, such as propane, oil and waste.  In 2016, our total energy consumption was 3,306 GWh, showing a decrease of 8.3% from the 3,605 GWh consumed in 2015. Electrical efficiency increased by 2.5% to 1.28 MWh per gross ton and process heat efficiency improved by 9.8% to 12.5 GJ per gross ton. 

Energy usage in 2016

MWh 2016 2015 Change, %
Natural gas 1,025,539  1,040,806 -1.5 
Oil 7,520  13,626 -44.6 
Coal 91,432  114,988 -20.5 
Secondary fuels and recovered methanol 227,250  308,388 -26.3 
Electrical power from the grid 509,083  542,930 -6.2 
Purchased steam 1,444,964  1,583,777 -8.8 
Total  3,305,788  3,604,514 -8.3 

ISO 50001 certifications

In 2016, two of our French plants, Bousbecque and Saint Severin, were certified as ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems. The third plant Pont Audemer is in the process of acquiring the certification during 2017. The total number of certifications rose from three to five.

Energy Monitoring System

The main project in our Energy Efficiency program was the initiation of the Energy Monitoring System. This is a cloud-based tracking system for each plant and their processes. On-site monitoring provides real time consumption data of each energy source and tracks the achievements in energy expenditure. The tool provides a more visual approach to the actual day-to-day consumption with alerts and reports.

In the future, this approach will support the forecasting of energy consumption and demand side management activities for key plants. This will also compliment procurement activities in the longer term.

Energy Savings Projects

We have been working on numerous projects to reduce energy consumption at our plants. By supporting investments and continuous improvement in process optimization we have been able to achieve savings in energy consumption, most significantly on process heat.

Our plants have been classified into three groups. First of all, we have the so-called TOP8, which are the biggest consumers of energy. Our focus has been on the performance of these sites and many of the energy savings projects and related investments have been carried out at these locations. Various process improvements have been implemented and the monitoring systems for consumption have been updated.

The second group are known as Medium plants, which are potential sites to implement energy management overall, but are clearly smaller than the TOP8 sites. Projects related to compressed air, LED lighting, and other continuous improvement have been executed at these plants.

The third group we have are the Minor plants, whose energy expenditure is similar to regular office buildings. These plants have mainly focused on the efficient use of electricity.

Key Performance Indicators

Our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in energy efficiency:

  • Specific energy consumption in kWh/ton and in euros/ton
  • CO2 emissions kg/ton
  • Energy savings in euros/month/plant and in kWh/year/plant

In 2016, the performance was positively impcated by gains from our energy savings projects. In addition, Lower energy prices, variances in the product mix and higher production volumes impacted the KPIs. 

For the future, the energy roadmap will be developed further to better visualize the trends and baselines of our manufacturing processes. The key is to be efficient in energy usage and to ensure the availability of energy with effective plans of action for sustainable energy sources.

The European Union has been actively promoting its 2020 agenda in which energy efficiency plays an important role. In line with the EU agenda, Ahlstrom has the ambition to aim at a reduction of 20% by 2020 in both specific energy consumption as well as carbon emissions per ton of product, using 2012 as the baseline.

Carbon disclosure project

The Carbon Disclosure Project is an independent not-for-profit organization that collects information on companies' greenhouse gas emissions and strategies to reduce them. It holds the largest database of primary corporate climate change information in the world. Ahlstrom has participated since 2008. Since 2011 we have also participated in the CDP Supply Chain Project and the Forest Disclosure. The results and detailed responses can be accessed through


All Ahlstrom plants work with local, regional, and federal authorities to regulate and monitor emissions. Agreed-upon limits are monitored and amended to maintain compliance and protect the communities and moreover the world we call home.


Absolute emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) continued on a downward five-year trend. In 2016, direct CO2 emissions (Scope 1) totaled 267,343 tons, showing a significant drop of 15.4% from 316,029 tons in 2015. The decrease was mainly because of lower consumption of electricity and process heat and a cleaner burning mix of fuels; more natural gas and less oil, coal and secondary fuels. More details on energy consumption and efficiency are available in the respective section.  CO2 intensity fell by 16.2% to 641 kg per gross ton from 765 kg per gross ton in the comparison period. CO2 emissions including energy purchases (Scope 1&2) also fell remarkably from the previous year as show in the chart below.

In 2016, nitrogen oxides emissions were 250 tons, up from 230 tons in the comparison period. This still represents a reduction of more than 25% since 2012. Sulfur dioxide emissions in 2016 were 96 tons, up from 65 tons in 2015. However, this constitutes a 15% reduction compared to 2012.

Gross production rate increased in 2016 to 416,994 tons from 412,959 tons in the previous year. Material loss – the difference between gross and net production - declined by 10.7% from the comparison period, leading to an improved operational efficiency.

All Ahlstrom plants work with local, regional, and federal authorities to regulate and monitor emissions. Agreed-upon limits are monitored and amended to maintain compliance and protect the communities and moreover the world we call home.

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