by Carrie Nixon

Alternative energy

Biomass boiler paves the way for energy-efficient printing practices

Steam is also a useful energy component in terms of energy efficiency

In an age where the environment and its sustainability are at the top of business agendas, it is vital that companies adopt ways in which to reduce their carbon footprints. In South Africa, more and more businesses are looking into ways of lowering their energy consumption and reducing energy costs with environmentally sustainable business practices.

As a group, Paarl Media has undertaken to reduce the environmental impact of the printing process which the company sees as a benefit to all involved – customers, employees of Paarl Media Group and the community in which it operates.

As part of this initiative, Paarl Media is installing a new biomass boiler at its Cape Town plant, Paarl Media Cape.

“The boiler works on the principle of combustion and is fuelled by sustainable biomass that burns at intense heat to generate the steam required in the gravure process. The gravure presses include the plant’s newly acquired Cerutti Aurora press which is also arguably the most energy efficient presses in the world,” says Christoff Botha, executive director of Paarl Media Western Cape. 

There are several ways to generate steam, the traditional methods being electricity, oil or coal. The biomass boiler creates steam energy by burning wood chips produced from alien vegetation, such as Port Jackson and Black Wattle. Neither species are indigenous to the Western Cape with both being extremely high consumers of water.

“In addition to being a greener process, the new biomass boiler system will assist in creating jobs within the local community through the collection of natural material for the production of the chips needed to fuel the boiler,” added Botha.

The biomass boiler works towards creating a carbon neutral footprint for the company while reducing the plant’s electricity consumption and resultant medium term production costs.

The new Biomass Boiler not only works towards creating a carbon neutral footprint for the company, it also reduces the plant’s electricity consumption. With recent electricity tariff increases, this is a significant development, as it will reduce production costs in the long run and create a buffer against electricity inflation.

“Despite the biomass boiler using large amounts of alien woodchips and capital cost being significant and dollar-based, the overall running costs are markedly lower than that of an electric boiler,” says project head and operations director for Paarl Media Western Cape, Johan von Wielligh.

 “We will continually evaluate extensions to this project to further the drive of reducing the impact on our environment and positively change the environment we operate within,” concludes von Wielligh.  

The proposed roll out for the Biomass Boiler at Paarl Media Cape is the end of this year.

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Issue 39