More biomass projects expected as C Town biomass steam plant is launched

1st December 2015 By: Kim Cloete - Creamer Media Correspondent

More biomass projects expected as C Town biomass steam plant is launched

Photo by: Bloomberg

JSE-listed Novus Holdings, formerly Paarl Media Group, has installed a biomass steam plant to power its Paarl Media Cape gravure printing presses.

The plant was built and managed by renewable-energy company Sustainable Heating.

The boiler was powered by sustainable biomass, which burned at intense temperatures to generate the steam required to power the printing presses.

By using wood chips opposed to fossil fuel, coal or paraffin, Sustainable Heating’s boiler room produces steam for the printing process. By doing this, it does away with the high carbon emissions of fuel-generated steam. It also consumes minimal electricity.

Sustainable Heating CEO Paul Gorremans said the new printing facility would save about 218 000 t of carbon emissions over the next 15 years. The plant is 85% to 90% efficient, with fuel only being used to transport the woodchips.

The woodchip fuel used by Sustainable Heating were obtained from from sawmill waste, as well as wood pallets that were chipped down to the right size.

Gorremans said world-class technology had been used on the project, which had taken 17 weeks to build.

He said he hoped to keep improving on this, with a goal of achieving 9.5 weeks for a full installation from foundation to first steam.

Novus Holdings prints most of the country’s newspapers and magazines, including You, Huisgenoot and Drum, and has 12 facilities across the country, with Paarl Media Cape its flagship printing operation.

Novus Holdings group executive of sales Peter Metcalfe said the company had invested over R100-million in environmentally responsible practices.

“Various green initiatives and technologies have been put in place to reduce the impact of print production processes on natural resources,” he pointed out.

He added that the company focused on energy and water consumption, emissions and waste reduction, as well as boosting efficiency in production.

Metcalfe noted that Novus Holdings had also found a way of dealing with ongoing paper waste. Through acquiring a tissue manufacturing plant in KwaZulu-Natal, it had been able to transform the potential of waste paper into the production of toilet paper.

He encouraged other companies to consider renewable technologies.

Western Cape Economic Opportunities Minister Alan Winde said renewable energy was a game changer in South Africa. “We are working hard at our own carbon footprint and how we can help from a leadership point of view in creating a green future.”

He said he anticipated more biomass projects to be developed in South Africa.

“If we can continue to build these plants that take biomass waste products, and start generating better energy consumption, it starts to change how people think. We believe that, in the short to medium term, we are going to see more and more of this kind of thing happening.”

He said renewable energy was the way forward and was far preferable to coal and nuclear, which was extremely expensive. 

“I believe we will pass the tipping point where nuclear will not be viable anymore and renewable energy will be the new frontier.”