Finland -  a world leader in co-generation

An Expert's View about Sustainability in Finland

Posted on: 9 May 2010

Finland is a world leader in combined heat and power with high levels of development in district heating, industrial energy production and use of biofuels, says the IEA.

19 December 2008 One of the world's largest biolfuel fired co-generation plants operates at UPM pulp and paper mill at Pietarsaari, Finland. The awarded plant, owned and operated by Alholmens Kraft, is the prime example of sustainable energy production. Finland - a world leader in combined heat and power Finland is a world leader in combined heat and power with high levels of development in district heating, industrial energy production and use of biofuels, praises the International Energy Agency's report that awards Finland with the highest possible number of points. In its country report released in February 2004, the IEA already commended Finnish energy policy for being remarkably well implemented and for simultaneously supporting economic growth, meeting environmental challenges and securing the country?s energy supply. In November 2008, the IEA?s report summarizes the applications of combined heat and power (CHP) - also called co-generation - in Finland, discusses the impact the government has had on its development, and provides policy options that can be used to extend the use of co-generation. "Finland is a world leader in prioritizing combined heat and power/district heating-cooling, with a clear and proven strategy for bringing about significant market development and the implementation of at least one global best-practice policy measure," says the report. In 2007, co-generation produced 74 percent of the heat needed for district heating and generated 29 percent of the country?s electricity supply and 34 percent of production. Its share of thermal electricity production has been high for several decades, and was 65 percent in 2007. Co-generation systems generate electricity and useful thermal energy in a single, integrated system. The thermal energy recovered in a system can be used for heating or cooling in industry or buildings. The total efficiency of the systems is typically more than 85 percent while the separate systems have an efficiency of only 45 percent. Increasing domestic energy The high national level of co-generation's utilization has been achieved with little direct government support. In a country with a cold climate and limited resources of energy, it has been the natural economic choice for many applications. Highly economic and mainly centralized co-generation has offered favourable energy prices ? low prices even at the European level ? to Finnish customers. Regardless of low sale prices, it has been a successful business to its owners, usually municipalities, estimates the IEA's report. The main drivers of co-generation have been the need to reduce energy imports, the need to maximize economy of energy supplies, and in some cases, governmental energy taxes that increase economic attractiveness of co-generation over heat-only generation. Local co-generation brings many benefits Finland needs a lot of energy due to its energy-intensive industry and cold climate and long distances. At the same the country's domestic resources are scarce. District heating is a natural form of heating in densely-built areas. Co-generation of district heat and electricity saves one-third of fuel compared with separate production of electricity and heat, and reduces emissions respectively. Almost 95 percent of apartment buildings and most public and commercial buildings are connected to the district heating network. In the largest towns, the market share of district heating is more than 90 percent - the City of Helsinki as an example (see separate article). From large and to small scale production The roots of Finnish co-generation are in the country's forest industry, that started to utilize its byproducts for producing heat and electricity since several decades ago. The co-generation plants at wood processing plants, use local fuel sources and are located close to where electricity is used. This kind of co-generation reduces local emissions, secures power supply, minimizes need for new transmission lines, and benefits for the local economy. This also was the main goal for Alholmen Kraft's plant in Pietarsaari on west coast of Finland. The plant utilizes byproducts created by the pulp and paper mill as well as the sawmill, i.e. bark, wood residues and forest residues. With thermal capacity of 550 MW and electrical capacity 265 MW (in condensing more), the co- generation plant produces 100 MW process steam to pulp and paper mills, and about 60 MW district heat to UPM and the city of Pietarsaari. An example for industrial small-scale co-generation is a plant, owned by Biokraft Oy, that produces electricity with capacity of 1.8 MW and heat of 3.5 MW for Finnforest Corporation's sawmill in central Finland. The plant produces over 70 percent of the electricity needed by the sawmill as well as all the heat needed for wood drying. More than that, the plant also produces most of the district heat required for the nearby town of Vilppula with its two thousand inhabitants and local industrial enterprises. World-class technology Developing an efficient energy system has for decades had a high priority in Finnish energy strategy. This, in turn, has resulted in the building up of world-class expertise in related technology and business. The technology used in co-generation including fluidized bed boilers, engines, and control techniques has been mainly developed in Finland. Major success has been achieved energy technology exports that reached a value of EUR 4 billion ? or almost doubled since 1997. One of the recent landmarks is when Metso and Wärtsilä formed a joint venture, MW Power Oy, which will combine their resources and expertise in sustainable energy production. The MW Power, starting in the beginning of 2009, will be one of Europe?s leading providers of medium- and small-scale power and heating plants for renewable fuel solutions. Sources an more information: The IEA report CHP and district heating - a great possibility for Europe Related article: Finnish power plant providers combine their forces for renewable energy solutions
Posted: 09 May 2010

See more from Sustainability in Finland

Expert Views    
Finland -  a world leader in co-generation   By Teknotietamys Oy (Techknowledge Ltd.)
Carbon neutral municipality - not a utopian idea   By Teknotietamys Oy (Techknowledge Ltd.)
Finland boosts renewable energy   By Teknotietamys Oy (Techknowledge Ltd.)
Latest News    
New showcase for climate-friendly action   By Teknotietamys Oy (Techknowledge Ltd.)
Finland updates its energy and climate strategy   By Teknotietamys Oy (Techknowledge Ltd.)