Fossil fuels will become increasing scarce in the future. So we are investigating the possibility of using all kinds of alternatives to gas as an energy source, such as biomass, solar energy and wind energy for producing green electricity. Ideally, we wish to install solar panels on the factory roof above our Converting section in the foreseeable future and we may participate in a wind turbine farm that is likely to be built locally.
Company Buyer Frank Bosmans: “Last year, we arranged a brainstorming session on satisfying our future energy needs. We have now seriously looked into a number of possibilities that match our sustainability vision, but have not yet taken concrete action. Solar panels and wind turbines are ideal methods for generating green electricity. We are investigating whether the roof and roof support structure above the Converting section are suitable for installing solar panels.”
As a leader in CSR, we want to make a statement, says Bosmans. “The most sustainable scenario is that we will be able to operate independently of fossil fuels at our production site. We are looking at the feasibility and financial viability of introducing power to heat as a method of exclusively using sustainably generated electricity in our production process. However, this is still very much a future scenario as our investigation has just started.
We consume 13.5 million cubic metres of gas annually. Most of this gas, 11 million m3 in fact, is used in our combined heat and power plant to produce the steam required to dry our paper. This plant also gives us the capability of generating approximately 25 to 30 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity as a source of power for our machines. That is still insufficient however, and we have to purchase a further 12 million kWh elsewhere.
We are also interested in wind turbines. Plans for building an energy park on the Roerstreek industrial estate in Roermond are currently being drawn up and reviewed. Frank Bosmans: “We are investigating the possibilities for participating in this project. However, among other factors, that will depend on whether the government is prepared to invest in the project.”
Five wind turbines are already operating at the Neer wind farm in central Limburg. The fifth unit was installed by Windmolencoörperatie Zuidenwind in September. Private individuals and companies can still invest in this last wind turbine. Frank Bosmans: “Investing in a wind turbine delivers a better return than putting money in a savings account. In addition, your investment contributes to producing more sustainable energy in Limburg in the future. So we actively give our employees information about this investment opportunity.”