Original Article

Energy Efficiency

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 49-63

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Benchmarking energy use in the paper industry: a benchmarking study on process unit level

  • Jobien LaurijssenAffiliated withCentre of Competence Paper and Board Email author 
  • , André FaaijAffiliated withCopernicus Institute, Utrecht University
  • , Ernst WorrellAffiliated withCopernicus Institute, Utrecht University


There are large differences between paper mills in, e.g. feedstock use and grades produced, but typical processes are similar in all mills. The aim of this study is to benchmark the specific energy consumption (SEC) of similar processes within different paper mills in order to identify energy improvement potentials at process level. We have defined improvement potentials as measures that can be taken at mill/process level under assumed fixed inputs and outputs. We were able to use industrial data on detailed process level, and we conducted energy benchmarking comparisons in 23 Dutch paper mills. We calculated average SECs per process step for different paper grades, and we were able to identify ranges in SECs between mills producing the same grade. We found significant opportunities for energy efficiency improvement in the wire and press section as well as in the drying section. The total energy improvement potential based on identified best practices in these sections was estimated at 5.4 PJ (or 15 % of the total primary energy use in the selected mills). Energy use in the other processes was found to be too dependent on quality and product specifications to be able to quantify improvement potentials. Our results emphasise that even a benchmark on detailed process level does not lead to clear estimations of energy improvement potentials without accounting for structural effects and without having a decent understanding of the process.


Benchmark Paper industry Energy efficiency