Electricity and heat from renewable residues for the entire region

The effects of climate change require a rethinking of energy supply. As one of the largest industrial producers of green energy, the paper industry can make a significant contribution. It supplies households with renewable electricity and waste heat and contributes to grid stability.


  • Paper production is energy-intensive. Its energy demand is 16,000 GWh, of which 4,400 GWh is electricity and 11,600 GWh is steam (heat). (2020)

  • However, the industry is also a major energy producer - raising a total of 16,100 GWh of energy in 2020.
  • The majority of the energy sources are renewable. Residual materials from production, such as bark, bioleach or sludge from wastewater treatment, are used to 60 %.
  • 10 % of the total energy from renewables in Austria comes from the paper industry.

Exploiting the energy potential of industrial companies

Already today, the energy needs of more than 100,000 households can be met with electricity and district heating from the paper industry. This type of decentralized energy supply is energy-efficient, savesCO2 and helps secure the site. There is still untapped potential in industrial waste heat utilization. The more suppliers there are, the better they can compensate for each other's supply fluctuations. A heat cadastre, which compares heat sinks and sources, ensures that existing potential is given priority over subsidized new plants. By adapting their energy management, companies can level out fluctuations in the power grid (system-serving behavior). These are caused by the volatile character of e.g. wind and photovoltaics. In order to take full advantage of this potential, companies need a supportive legal framework and access to the various reserve markets. Exclusionary criteria, such as mandatory decommissioning notices, should be rejected.

GWh of electricity
GWh District heating

regional energy supply


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Efficiency criteria for the promotion of renewables

Efficiency is the most important key to the energy solution, whether it is consumption, production or promotion of energy. The new regulation of green electricity subsidies has been hotly debated in recent years. Recently, a proposal for a Renewable Energy Expansion Act was presented by the German government. However, there is still room for improvement in the area of efficiency. With the greatest possible market proximity and system responsibility, it must be ensured that those plants are promoted which generate green electricity at the lowest cost with maximumCO2 savings. In the case of plants that are dependent on raw materials, it is important that the degree of fuel utilisation is as high as possible so that maximum energy yield is achieved with the raw material used.

Green gas as an alternative?

Natural gas plays a central role for heat and power supply of industrial processes, as well as for households and commerce. Green gas" (biogas and green hydrogen) is being discussed as an alternative to natural gas. However, it is questionable whether sufficient raw material potentials are available for this. It is therefore important to clarify in advance questions of raw material availability and logistics, technical application possibilities, economic viability and its financing. In order to achieve the green gas target, it is also necessary to take into account potentials that are already available at present, even if they are used directly without being fed into the grid. In any case, the paper industry will be an important partner both as a gas consumer and as a producer of biogas from residual and waste materials.

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Fair competitive conditions for ancillary energy costs

Different framework conditions in individual EU countries distort intra-Community competition. Austrian companies, for example, have a clear locational disadvantage in terms of ancillary energy costs. In Germany alone, industrial companies receive energy policy relief from various titles. This results in cost disadvantages for Austrian companies amounting to millions, which have to be compensated elsewhere. This gap was exacerbated by the separation of the German-Austrian electricity price zone in October 2018, where it is necessary to harmonize the competitive conditions within the EU.

Best Practice


The paper industry has been supplying its immediate surroundings with waste heat for years. A gratifying major project in this connection is the 11 km long district heating pipeline from the Sappi Gratkorn paper mill to Graz. The project will be able to supply 40,000 households in Graz with waste heat and save a total of 50,000 tons ofCO2 per year.

Relevant articles

Paper industry demands real relief on energy costs

Austria's paper industry is enormously affected by the exorbitant energy prices. Despite a high share of renewable energy sources, many companies are dependent on gas. Projects are underway at all mills to become less dependent on fossil fuels. In the short term, however, the industry needs rapid relief to maintain production.