Making a positive environmental impact by going solar to reduce the usage of fossil energy

Making a positive environmental impact by going solar to reduce the usage of fossil energy

Sustainability needs to be custom-sized: what is sustainable for one process or product might not be the best fit for the next. At Ahlstrom-Munksjö, we aim to find the best solutions for each specific product we provide.

The fifth chapter in our article series “Ahlstrom-Munksjö Specialties sustainability journey” focuses on energy savings in one of our Windsor Locks, CT, USA plants. A solar power panel system was installed to reduce electrical energy usage from the power grid.  This solar panel system will, at times, provide enough power that can be sold back to the local utility company.

There are many benefits of going solar. It can be a cost-effective option as there is the opportunity to reduce or even eliminate electric bills thus providing a payback on the capital investment.  This solar installation is expected to eliminate approximately 1.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide per year. “One of the most important benefits of using solar panels is the “green” aspect of it.  Reducing pollution and overall greenhouse gases has an extremely positive impact on the environment” commented Jim Fritsche, Head of Operations, Medical, Ahlstrom-Munksjö.

The solar panel project has been a joint effort among a dedicated team in the Windsor Locks plant.  Over the past year, they researched what systems would work best in a New England climate (snow/ice during the winter months) and met with the local utility company to determine how we could partner on these efforts to share energy. The team also researched roof mounting systems and data acquisition systems to use for monitoring.  The project was a large undertaking for the team but will be worth all the efforts for many years to come.  “This is an excellent renewable energy project. The team has pioneered the way for our other plants to make strides towards finding ways, like this solar panel system, to reduce electrical energy usage” says Lionel Bonte, Vice President, Medical, Ahlstrom-Munksjö.

Going solar is not the only sustainable energy saving initiative Ahlstrom-Munksjö has taken. Two of our plants in France have taken steps toward being more environmentally friendly as well.  Our Stenay plant recently stopped using coal and started using gas. The replacement of one coal boiler by two gas boilers has allowed the plant to reduce CO2 emissions by half as well as significantly eliminate the level of fine particles emissions, resulting in less of an environmental footprint. The two gas boilers meet the steam requirements of the plant. The plant continues to research several opportunities to see how to continue this sustainable approach for their steam and energy sourcing. 

Our parchment plant in Saint-Séverin invested 7M€ to install a co-generator allowing combined and efficient generation of power and steam needed for the site processes. The co-generator produces 9,000 MW.

Remember to come back next month to read about other powerful initiatives that are taking place in the Specialties Business Area to drive innovative and sustainable solutions for every day products.