West Fraser Lumber


West Fraser Lumber has several projects in BC where they generate energy from sawmill residuals. Their Fraser Lake and Chetwynd are embarking on two exciting renewable bioenergy projects. The mills are developing North America’s largest biomass power generators. These unique, innovative bioenergy generators – called “ORCs” – are a first for West Fraser. ORC stands for a process called “Organic Rankine Cycle,” a type of energy system that relies on a closed-loop cycle of working liquid to generate electricity.

The ORCs will replace Chetwynd and Fraser Lake’s current sawmill residuals burners. The ORC energy systems are the largest applications, worldwide, designed specifically for power generation from biomass. They are an innovative, energy-efficient choice of technology which offers environmental benefits by reducing particulate matter and emissions.

Canada’s Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program presented an opportunity for Cariboo Pulp & Paper not only to be more energy efficient and improve our pulp production processes – but to also transform the operation as a green power producer. Cariboo Pulp & Paper Turbo Generator

Funding from the program enabled Cariboo Pulp & Paper to install a 27 megawatt co-generation turbo generator. The condensing steam co-generation turbo generator uses wood waste to generate power and steam for the mill’s operation. Not only does it produce power for the site, it will supply enough green biomass power to B.C.’s provincial grid to power more than 14,500 homes annually.

To increase strength and structural stability, lumber must be dried before it is packaged and shipped. West Fraser dries lumber in large ovens, called kilns, which “bake” the wood to a low moisture level. These kilns can be a major consumer of electrical energy. West Fraser’s Williams Lake Sawmill developed a new automation and control technology that significantly improves the energy efficiency of lumber drying kilns. Fully automated, the system controls all of the kiln’s energy inputs to optimize the lumber drying cycle while maintaining the quality of the dried lumber.  The system is very effective. Just one kiln using this energy management technology saves 400,000 kilowatt hours in one year – the same as the energy use of 36 homes. BC Hydro honoured West Fraser with an Energy Manager Award in 2012 for developing this innovative system to improve the energy efficiency of lumber drying kilns.

As part of a larger environmental improvement and energy conservation program, Quesnel River Pulp installed new heat exchangers that are much more energy efficient to run and reduce the pulp mill’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The project was possible through support from FortisBC’s Industrial Technology Retrofit Program. The program encourages large industrial customers to improve the energy efficiency of their operations. Quesnel River Pulp’s new heat exchangers capture the waste heat from the wastewater more efficiently and as a result, reduce the demand for natural gas in the pulp drying process. Converting to more energy efficient heat exchangers saves approximately the same amount of natural gas consumed each year by 650 residential homes.