Traditionally, new technology has been slow to enter the paper industry, which turns over its capital stock in about 40 years. In this paper, we will examine some of the reasons for this long transition period and the implications of such a transition period for government policy. If the turnover time could be cut in half, the potential energy savings could be 4 quadrillion Btu (Quads) in 20 years. Examples of new technologies that will become prominent throughout the paper industry by the year 2000 include vapor recompression evaporation, oxygen bleaching, twin-wire forming and extended nip pressing. We present explicit projections of production shares (based on a computer model) for selected new technologies.
New technology blends into an industry over a period of years. This paper examines some of the factors that accelerate or retard this transition in the capital-intensive (“heavy”) industries. For purposes of this article, our example is the paper industry, and so the examples of new innovations are drawn from pulp and paper-making processes. (Incidentally, we use the term “paper” throughout as a shorthand for SIC 26, Pulp, Paper and Paperboard.)
The examination of paper-industry technology reported here is based to a great extent on a study of industrial energy use  conducted by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) for the U.S. Congress. The OTA study examined the four most energy-intensive American industries (paper, steel, chemicals and petroleum refining), to identify technologies to improve energy efficiency, to project industrial energy use in each industry between now and the end of the century, and to assess the impact of various policies on energy use and energy efficiency.
The study found remarkable similarities between the four industries. One notable commonality is the attitude of management towards introduction of new technology.