At the beginning of the year, Norske Skog announced plans for a significant investment in a new TMP (thermomechanical pulping) line at the Skogn mill. Here, Håvard Busklein, Managing Director of Norske Skog Skogn, gives us the latest on the project.
First, can you explain to non-experts what a TMP line is?
A TMP line, in simple terms, consists of several refiners that turn wood chips into wood fibres using pressure and energy. After the wood fibres have been diluted with water and washed, they are ready to be stored in towers before they go to the paper machine and become high-quality newsprint paper.
What are the benefits of the new line?
The new TMP line replaces recycled fibres. The availability of recycled fibres has declined in recent years while procurement and transportation costs have increased. This is due to a reduced consumption of printing paper and an increased demand for recycled fibres in the growing packaging market.
By building the new TMP line at Skogn, we ensure that we can produce on all machines without recycled fibres. Additionally, transitioning away from recycled fibres will result in less ash from the boilers, lower fossil CO2 emissions, and reduced NOx emissions into the air.
Why is this important for the Skogn mill?
The project is important for the Skogn mill for several reasons. It positively impacts various environmental parameters, reduces our production costs, and is a significant strategic investment, providing both capacity and quality to explore potential future products. The profitability is also solid, and the project has a relatively short payback period.
Some may wonder why environmental and climate benefits are highlighted in transitioning from recycled paper to fresh fibre. Can you explain?
This is mainly because the availability and quality of recycled paper have significantly declined in recent years. Instead of being able to source plenty of high-quality recycled fibre in Norway, we now have to import it, which involves long transportation distances. When we also find that the yield of what we import is low, it no longer makes sense economically or environmentally. In this project, we are also reusing equipment from closed or renovated factories, which means we don’t have to produce entirely new equipment, reducing unnecessary emissions. And as I mentioned, it reduces the amount of ash, ash composition, CO2 emissions, and NOx emissions.
Also, let’s look at the big picture: When much of the industry is transitioning to packaging production based on recycled fibres, it’s essential to remember that recycled fibres originally come from fresh wood fibre from the forest. Someone needs to contribute to bringing fresh fibre back into the cycle, and Skogn plays a central role, making us even more important with this project. TMP also maximizes the utilization of timber compared to the alternative, which could be chemical pulp production, contributing to the best possible use of forest resources.
How far along is the project now, and are you comfortable with the planned start in the first half of 2024?
We are well underway with the assembly work, and work related to electrical and automation systems has begun. The schedule is on track, and we look forward to starting the new line and fine-tuning it during the first half of 2024.