Finland-Komi Bioenergy Cooperation Advances

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Posted on: 14 May 2010

An example of bioenergy cooperation efforts is the plan to convert forest industries' by-products into pellets.

14 May 2010 About 40 percent of the Northwest Russian forest stock is growing in Komi. Photo: Rantasalmi Institute of Environmental Education. Finland-Komi bioenergy cooperation advances The bioenergy cooperation between Finland and the Russian Republic of Komi makes progress. An example of current efforts is the plan to convert forest industries' by-products into pellets. Bioenergy is a part of wider Finland-Komi cooperation that includes forestry and forest industry, energy efficiency, energy saving, fishing industry, tourism and a few other areas. Like in many population centers of the Russian Federation, most municipal heating systems and a part of industrial units in Komi are powered by natural gas. But the price of gas has increased significantly, and is expected to increase further. Replacing natural gas by local fuels would for its part be an answer to this challenge, says Professor Pauli Jumppanen, PJ consulting Oy, currently Chairman of the Finnish - Komi Working Group for Economic Cooperation. ?In Komi, wood-based by-products such as bark, sawdust and waste wood from mechanical and chemical wood processing industries offer a huge energy resource,? Jumppanen says. Important goals for the business in Komi would be bringing the entire biomass energy value chain into efficient operation and renewing local power plants in order to achieve better efficiencies and lower emissions, Jumppanen explains. ?In addition, improving the local energy distribution networks, for instance district heating, is also a major challenge. Espesially, renewing the old networks by building them as closed systems is a big task, and one of the main ways to save energy efficiently," Jumppanen continues. "The bioenergy development would open new businesses for the Russian and Komi enterprises, as the investments in utilizing wood by-products would benefit both local sawmills and communities, and help to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions,? Jumppanen says. In Finland, the utilization of sawmill by-products has not only made several Finnish sawmills almost self-sufficient in energy but also improved their overall competitiveness in terms of economy and sustainable operation. Converting by-products into pellets The huge wood by-product reservoirs in Komi would provide one of the most attractive business opportunities even for Finnish companies. For instance, there is currently shortage of wood pellets in Europe and soon also in Finland. To respond to this challenge, Rantasalmi Institute of Environmental Education (RIEE) and Envitecpolis Oy from Finland have carried out a pre-project study on a pellet plant with an annual capasity of 75,000 tons. In April, the study was presented to Mr. Aleksandr Gibezh, Minister of Industry and Energy of the Republic of Komi, as well as to the ministry's forest sector officials. The Finnish experts were told that there are more than 100 small or medium size sawmills in Syktyvkar. Furthermore, one of the Europe's largest pulp and paper plants is located in the area. Despite the huge excess of by-products including bark, sawdust and waste wood, only one pellet plant, located about 200 km from Syktyvkar, is operational in the area. In April, the Komi Ministry of Industry and Energy called for a Finnish entrepreneur or company to establish a pellet plant or a joint venture with Russian partner. In all, the Ministry aims to launch the building of 3 - 4 pellet plants in the area. ?The Ministry promised to help the enterpreuner to get raw material from the sawmills and pulp and paper plant at a reasonable costs. The main challenges that remain have to do with logistical costs and export duties,? says program director Pekka Hynninen from RIEE. Also private business in the area is interested in establishing a pellet plant together with Finnish partners and boosting new innovations in renewable energy Opportunities, but a careful evaluation necessary In addition to electricity and heat generation, huge biomass-based resources of the Komi Republic form a sustainable basis for the production of transport fuels, industrial chemicals and other value- added products. ?This development will open additional new opportunities for the Finnish-Russian cooperation, but before entering the business, conceptual studies case-by-case for planning and evaluation of projects are necessary,? says Professor Jumppanen. Komi ? the most powerful in the Barents Region Credit: Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal. The Komi Republic is located in the northwestern extreme of the European Russia. A part of the subarctic region, its climate is harsh with long and severe winters and short summers. The population is a little less than one million consisting of more than a hundred ethnic groups - including Fenno-Ugric group. Mineral resources include hydrocarbons, coal, numerous metals and nonferrous mineral. In addition Komi has huge water reserves, and the Republic is also one of the leading timber industrial regions of the Russian Federation. The total forested area is more than 30 million hectares and contains cirka 3000 million cubic meters timber resource. This is 3.5 percent of the entire Russian forest stock but as much as 40 percent of the Northwest Russian forest stock. The annual growth is 28.5 million but the annual cut only 6 - 8 million cubic meters. The recent survey from BarentsObserver shows that the Komi Republic is the economically most powerful subjects in the Barents region. In 2009, also the Komi Republic experienced decline in its primary economic parameters. However, Komi's industrial production still did better than in practically all other Northwest Russian regions, and the last months of the year already showed several positive trends, as indicated the Barents Monitoring report. Positive trends were also registered in investments. In 2009, the main capital investments in the Republic amounted to 99,253 billion rubles (EUR2.55 billion), which was 39 percent more compared to the level of 2008, the report reads. The Republic was then on of the regions with the highest level of foreign investments in the Russian Federation. New grids and power plants boost economy further The power system of the Republic of Komi is a complex of power stations, transmission facilities and substations joined in parallel with each other and having a common power reserve and centralized operational dispatch management. Power system of the republic incorporates five generation hubs joined by the 220 kW backbone single-circuit grid with an extension over 1,000 km. The total length of backbone grid is 1,610 km and of distribution grid is 20,674 km. The republic is power self-sufficient and transmits 5 percent of power to Arkhangelsk region. The fuel proportion is: 76% of gas, 16% of fuel coal, 2% of black and diesel oil and 6% of other types of fuel. Major energy consumers in the region are companies of timber industry, woodworking, pulp and paper, oil, oil processing and coal mining industries; transport, oil-and-gas and public sector. The Southern energy hub of the Republic has deficit in energy consumption. Building a new grid has become an item of high-priority measures in construction and rebuilding the power transmission facilities located in Komi. According to the plans of 2013 commissioning a new high-voltage grid will make the Southern hub consumers? power supply stable and provide a sustainable capacity of Pechorskaya GRES. It will also insure less electric strains, reduce system emergencies and transmission power losses, improve the network maintenance. The Strategy of Economic and Social Development of the Republic of Komi in 2006-2010 and till 2015 also envisages construction and commissioning of four new power generation and heating facilities for industry with capacities between 52 - 120 MW. In addition, the strategy includes power stations for Yamal-Europe gas transmission system with the total capacity of 240 MW. In general, the activities implementation will support further economic development of Komi. Related: Russia improves environment for foreign investments Finland and Russia boost cooperation in energy efficiency, renewables
Posted: 14 May 2010

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