DS Smith and E.ON cooperate at Aschaffenburg plant to reduce natural gas consumption by 25%

DS Smith, the leading provider of sustainable packaging solutions, and E.ON, one of Europe's largest operators of energy grids and infrastructure, have announced their plans to build a state-of-the-art power plant at the paper mill in Aschaffenburg.

DS Smith and E.ON cooperate at Aschaffenburg plant
© DS Smith. Aschaffenburg Mill
Source:  Company news

The new plant combines technologies for generating energy from production waste at the site with a highly efficient combined heat and power process. E.ON is building and operating the new power plant, which is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2025. Since summer 2020, E.ON and DS Smith have already been working together to develop a new energy supply solution for the site. The new plant will now make it possible to utilise all industrial residues from paper production to generate electricity and heat.

By integrating waste recycling into the power-heat cycle, a high degree of energy utilisation is achieved and the use of fossil fuels is significantly reduced. This brings a number of advantages to the site: After commissioning of the plant, the Aschaffenburg factory will save a quarter of its natural gas consumption as well as 50,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. The natural gas saved corresponds to the amount of energy needed to supply a city with 85,000 inhabitants with heat for a year. In addition, DS Smith and E.ON want to implement further measures to decarbonise production in the future: for example, switching to CO2-neutral and -free energy sources such as hydrogen or biogenic fuels as soon as they are available on the market.

Niels Flierman, Head of Paper & Recycling at DS Smith, said: "As a company, we are constantly looking for ways to reduce our impact on the environment and increase the efficiency of our operations. The new facilities will give the mill additional flexibility in how and when it supplies energy, while reducing carbon emissions on site. These measures not only support the site in the immediate future, but also help us meet our commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 46 per cent from 2019 levels by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050."

Manfred Wirsing, Managing Director of E.ON Energy Projects, said: "Transforming the energy supply at the Aschaffenburg plant, one of the most efficient sites in the DS Smith Group and within the industry as a whole, was a challenging task. We are proud to have worked with our client to develop an energy supply solution that contributes to significant decarbonisation of production while ensuring maximum flexibility in the face of a dynamically changing energy market environment. In particular, the high degree of digitisation and automation makes the site's energy supply fit for the future."

The new integrated plant includes a substitute fuel boiler with a steam capacity of 36 tonnes per hour, a fuel handling and storage system, a backpressure steam turbine and two new boiler units with a total steam capacity of 60 tonnes per hour. These new facilities increase the flexibility of the plant's energy supply and enable further benefits in the future, such as the replacement of natural gas with biogas and the possibility of replacing plastic waste with biofuels.

E.ON IQ Energy is also an intelligent, plant-based energy supply solution that has been specially developed for energy-intensive industries. At its heart is an automated, self-controlled power plant based on patented hardware and a digital control concept that uses artificial intelligence to optimise supply in real time. In this way, data from the operation of the power plant and production facilities, the grid and the commodity markets help to make the energy supply efficient and flexible.

In addition to the new plant being built, E.ON will also take over the existing cogeneration plant at the site and operate it from January 2023. After that, E.ON will supply DS Smith with energy and manage operations on site. This also includes the management of all employees currently working at the plant. DS Smith and E.ON have been working together in the field of energy supply for several years and are currently implementing two major projects together in Kemsley and Aschaffenburg.

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