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German paper and pulp company exploring geothermal for energy needs

Paper production at Kabel Premium Paper & Pulp (source: company)
Alexander Richter 24 Jul 2020

Paper and pulp production is a heat-intensive issue, so it is not surprising for a company producing paper and pulp in Germany to look for green energy and at geothermal in particular to fuel its heating demand with a green energy source.

Paper production is one of the most energy-intensive industries in Germany, so an article published locally in Germany earlier this month. Graphic fine paper has been produced at the location of the Kabel company in Hagen, Germany for almost 125 years. The enormous amounts of energy and heat for drying the paper – around 550,000 MWh of heat annually – are still largely provided through fossil fuels. The solution: renewable energies. In the future – so the ambitious vision – a maximum of the required heat should be gained from deep geothermal energy.

Expand use of renewable energies

Under the title “Kabel ZERO”, the Hagen company Kabel Premium Pulp & Paper GmbH would like to realign itself for the future and expand the use of renewable energies in the manufacturing process.

As a central concern, the Hagen company, together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Infrastructures and Geothermal Energy IEG from Bochum and the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT from Oberhausen, initiated a project to investigate the possibilities of using geothermal energy in Hagen . The project partners are supported by the Energy Agency NRW.

Funding from the European Union

With funding from the EU and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Fraunhofer IEG will investigate the geology of the subsurface at a depth of 4,000 meters by the end of 2022 in order to be able to estimate the extent to which geothermal energy can be used at expected temperatures of around 130 degrees. The mass limestone in depth and its properties are characterized by a targeted investigation program. A detailed underground model is developed from the results, which should serve as the basis for a later development and usage concept.

Fraunhofer UMSICHT is developing process engineering concepts to integrate the heat that can be gained from deep geothermal energy into the processes of paper drying. The challenge here is that the temperatures found in Germany are not sufficient for the direct generation of process steam with the parameters required in industry. For this reason, a process for the efficient and resource-saving upgrading of geothermal heat at different temperatures to industrially usable steam is being developed.

“We hope that by working with the partners from Fraunhofer we will be able to develop a concept to use renewable geothermal energy to provide a large part of our heating requirements directly at the site. If the implementation is economically viable, we are also ready to make the appropriate investments, ”says Juha Ebeling, Managing Director of Kabel Premium Pulp & Paper GmbH.

Blueprint for the industry

A successful project in Hagen can also serve as a blueprint for other locations in the paper industry. Kabel Premium Pulp & Paper therefore accompanies the integration of the use of deep geothermal resources in the entire paper industry.

Despite the corona restrictions, the project partners have recently invited the mayors and district administrators of the municipalities of Hagen, Dortmund, Herdecke and Schwerte, the energy agency of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the geological service of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the mining authority of the district government of Arnsberg to an information event in the paper mill to report on the planned project activities. As part of the cooperation project, the subsurface and its properties are to be examined for the time being; the establishment of a productive deep geothermal plant is not yet part of the funding.

The planned investigation measures – above all the implementation of a 2-D seismic and the sinking (production of vertical cavities for the development of deposits) of a research hole around 300 meters deep on the site of the paper mill – must be approved by the mining authority.

The basis for this is the mining law permit field for the exploration of geothermal energy, an area of ??around 25 square kilometers, which is located in the area of ??the four municipalities of Hagen, Dortmund, Herdecke and Schwerte.

In terms of mining law, geothermal energy is a natural resource whose exploration and extraction is regulated by mining law. The Arnsberg district government is responsible for the required approval process as the national mining authority.

Source: Westfalenpost