COWI – Burning straw, cotton stalks and cornstalks powers major factory in Pakistan

Date: 10 April 2013

A new local power plant running on green and cheap fuels is to supply the power for a factory, save the environment 200,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, and generate welcome additional income for local farmers. Everyone is busy at Packages Ltd., a major paper and packaging factory in Lahore, Pakistan. So busy that it depends on a power supply that could cover the needs of a small town in Denmark.


But it is not that easy. Power is scarce, and natural gas and electricity supplies fall out regularly rather than benefitting the many Pakistani cars that run on natural gas.


Often, supplies are disconnected completely, so Packages Ltd. decided to build a new local power plant that is based on green and cheap fuels and offers high reliability.


Expert straw burners
“Packages Ltd.´s management wanted to look into regional biomass and contacted COWI, which has vast expertise in biomass, including straw,” says Chief Project Manager and Market Manager Carsten Schneider, COWI.


COWI then prepared a conceptual study where consultants analysed and determined fuel, facility size and system configuration.


“It takes massive investments to build a large biomass power plant, and thereby also external financing is necessary. Consequently, we also prepared a feasibility study,” says Carsten Schneider.


“COWI´s combination of high expertise in biomass technology and financial analyses allowed us to deliver a complete technical and financial analysis of the project. This gives external shareholders and banks a solid basis for deciding whether to invest.”


Finally, COWI prepared the complete tender documents for the machinery of the facility, which are expected to be purchased during the fall of 2012.


Helping farmers and the environment
This exciting energy project also has socioeconomic and environmental benefits.


The facility requires some 250,000 tonnes of biomass a year, which will consist of straw, cotton stalks and cornstalks – residual products from the poor local farmers´ fields. In this way, farmers within 200 km from the facility will generate extra income from their small plots.


Furthermore, converting to biomass saves the environment in excess of 200,000 tonnes of CO2 a year. 

So far, the power plant has run on heavy fuel oil and natural gas 
Six years ago, Packages Ltd. set up two new production lines that consume vast amounts of power in the form of steam and electricity; some 100 tonnes of process steam an hour and close to 30 MW of electricity. This corresponds to the consumption of a small town in Denmark. So far, the power has been produced by means of the factory´s own power plant that runs on heavy fuel oil and natural gas.


Because of government subsidies, the natural gas price is low and, naturally, attractive. At the same time, there is a shortage of natural gas and many of the cars in Pakistan run on natural gas. Consequently, the natural gas supply is interrupted regularly, affecting the factory´s production. In such periods, power is generated using heavy fuel oil, which is far more expensive and far more environmentally damaging.


The same goes for electricity, which is also interrupted or falls out.


Contact for more information:
Carsten Schneider
Chief Project Manager, casc@cowi.com