Circular economy through decades of partnership

14th December 2023
Partnership stories Industries Pulp & Paper District heating

Adven’s collaboration with forestry and industrial company SCA in Timrå, Sweden goes way back. For over 40 years, the companies have worked together to utilize residual products and streamline industrial processes in the world’s largest production facility for bleached softwood sulphate pulp. A partnership ensuring no resources goes to waste.

“It results in energy supply with very low emissions and definitely a low share of fossil fuels. It provides a very green and clean energy delivery to Timrå,” asserts Jens Olsson, Technical Director at SCA.

SCA’s Östrand factory in Timrå, Sweden holds the world’s largest production line for bleached softwood sulphate pulp with a capacity of producing 900,000 tons annually. From the sulphate pulp process, green electricity, tall oil, and turpentine are produced. Through the collaboration, residual heat, along with bio-based steam heat, can be converted into district heating.

Circular economy refines waste

Since the collaboration first started, SCA has sold residual heat to Adven. Over time, the district heating network expanded, now reaching SCAs’ own production facility, where premises are heated by district heating. The collaboration closes the loop in a solution where both the Timrå community and the two companies depend on each other. For the city of Timrå, Sweden, the collaboration entails locally produced heat from residual products combined with green steam heat, heating the municipality and generating employment opportunities. All this while maintaining a low climate impact from the heat.

For me, our collaboration is an example of how a residual product can become a valuable resource for someone else. District heating becomes the link that connects industry processes with society’s needs.

Björn Tingelöf
Customer Manager at Adven

Resource management for both parties

When the collaboration between Timrå municipality and SCA began over 40 years ago, heat pumps were used to increase the temperature of the residual heat. Over the years, production processes have been streamlined to save energy and deliver higher-quality residual heat where even more heat can be recycled. Today, the energy supply purchased by Adven is high-temperature and consists of residual heat streams heated with steam when higher temperatures are required. This way, residual heat can be directly transmitted into the district heating network.

“If we can value the heat streams we have in the mills and create value in society, it’s beneficial. We get the opportunity to optimize our energy and develop our processes if there’s a customer and buyer who needs it, such as district heating,” explains SCA’s Jens Olsson.

The production of softwood sulphate pulp involves high energy consumption. About 50% of the supplied wood raw material becomes sulphate pulp, while the remaining part turns into various energy products. When SCA’s residual products gain economic value, demands for quality arise, and the company benefits from further streamlining production processes. Through constant energy efficiency measures, SCA can extract green electricity equivalent to 1 TWh per year at full pulp production and district heating that Adven can purchase to heat the Timrå municipality.

“Collaborating with the surrounding community is important for us. In this case, it’s resource management based on the fact that the community can be heated with energy sources already available to us. Within SCA, we want to place as much value as possible on our energy sources. Upgrading residual heat to district heating is one such example. It simultaneously releases fiber raw material that we can use for even higher-value products, contributing to the green transition and reducing society’s climate footprint. In this way, it creates double benefits for us,” notes Jens Olsson.

Collaboration accelerates transition

Instead of competing for fuels, the companies work together to reduce energy consumption and create more sustainable heat for society. The result is heat produced by biofuels from the mill, as locally sourced as possible. Something that would not have been possible without collaboration.

“Circular solutions can become reality through relationships and collaborations. When residents, businesses, industries, and infrastructure owners find forms of collaboration, like this example, we can reduce both society’s resource use and environmental impact,” concludes Adven’s Björn Tingelöf.