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Management Side
Technical Side

Energy is always the question...

In my column last week, we asked, “Do you think there is a long term energy solution for humankind's needs, that is one that will last longer than 25 years?"

53.8 percent answered yes, while 46.2 percent said no.

Here are some of the comments

>Nuclear Fusion - we will eventually figure out how to harness this nearly limitless energy source. Maybe some day it will even directly power our cellphones!

>I believe that there are at least 2 that could become huge players in the pulp & paper industry. One is solar - if there is a more efficient means to generate and store this resource. Most mills have huge amounts of flat top space (roofs) that are basically unused. There are some vents and fans, but with a huge array of solar panels, the machine underneath may be able to be powered without an additional electrical connection. Wind or turbine from the exhaust plumes from the machines, etc. Some areas of the country have amble wind to install turbines to capture this power.

>Forest biomass already has done the job for much longer than 25 consecutive years. There have been a change in what trees, which part of the tree and the waste flows that are best (economical) to use. It is a sustainable source as evidenced by the forested land in the U.S. being larger and the annual net growth being higher than 100 years ago. Same story in most of the developed nations.

>Another observation is that even if a mill keeps older assets around, they are often not willing to use their energy flexibility.They will watch one energy source rise in price, study it, and 'hope' it will come back down again, rather than adeptly switch to a cheaper source. Energy markets constantly change, and organizations that lack the resources or mindset to take advantage of the changing markets are leaving money on the table.

>Energy solutions are elusive because technology is always evolving. This evolution makes the economic (which is always the preferred answer) solution fluid.

>Nuclear energy must be developed more completely.

>Energy is a great political topic, so economics will continue to change due to real or contrived markets.

>The long term solution is many faceted, centered around design, maintenance and willingness to accept change, and anchored firmly in multiple energy sources and energy conservation efforts. Any solution anchored by near term cost savings is doomed to long term failure for the very reasons you have illustrated so capably.

Click here to take this week's quiz.

Want to get a jump on the surveys? Follow me on twitter, where they are posted early. You can do this here. (note: all respondents are confidential; the software is programmed in such a way that neither we nor anyone else can determine who responded)

 

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Want to be heard on other subjects? Be sure to watch for "Paperitalo Second Tuesday Surveys."

Another observation is that even if a mill keeps older assets around, they are often not willing to use their energy flexibility.They will watch one energy source rise in price, study it, and 'hope' it will come back down again, rather than adeptly switch to a cheaper source. Energy markets constantly change, and organizations that lack the resources or mindset to take advantage of the changing markets are leaving money on the table.


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