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Bioenergy project at Millar Western Forest Products to turn pulp waste into green electricity

August 16, 2011 - A new bioenergy project at Millar Western Forest Products Ltd. will convert organic material found in pulp mill wastewater into enough green electricity to power approximately 6500 homes annually, said the Alberta government.
Located at Millar Western’s Whitecourt pulp mill, the proposed Bioenergy Effluent Project will involve the installation of an anaerobic hybrid digester (AHD) to pre-treat wastewater and produce a biogas that will generate green electricity. The project, which will receive $17.5 million in funding from the province, will produce enough green energy to allow the company to draw 6.2 fewer megawatts from the grid to operate its mill, it added.

The government also announced that once proven at the Whitecourt pulp mill, the technology used in this project will have the potential to make “significant environmental improvements” in pulp and paper mills across the country.

“Turning wood waste into renewable energy is an excellent example of how we can efficiently use our natural resources,” said Environment minister Rob Renner. “By promoting innovation, we are continually raising the bar for environmental performance in Alberta.”

“In addition to reducing our environmental footprint here at home, advanced technologies like AHD can give us a marketing advantage, setting Alberta’s forest products industry apart as innovative and green,” continued Ron Reis, Millar Western’s senior VP of Pulp.

The AHD technology will also lower the mill’s direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by about 50,000 tonnes per year, reduce water consumption, improve the quality of treated wastewater discharges, and cut the production of solid organic waste in half, said the Alberta government.

“This project will not only generate important economic activity during construction but will also make more complete use of our forest resources,” said George VanderBurg, MLA for Whitecourt-Ste. Anne. “By promoting the adoption of new technologies, we have the potential to make our forest industry stronger and more competitive.”

Provincial funding for the project comes from Alberta’s share of the Canada ecoTrust for Clean Air and Climate Change.

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