Helsingin Energia participates in plans to construct a biorefinery in Finland
Helsingin Energia is launching a feasibility study with Gasum and forest industry company Metsä-Botnia into constructing a biorefinery for biogas production in Joutseno, southeastern Finland. If realised, the biorefinery would produce biogas from renewable wood raw material for transmission to usage sites such as Helsingin Energia’s Vuosaari power plant via the Finnish natural gas network. This project is a continuation to the letter of intent signed by Gasum and Helsingin Energia in April.
“Helsingin Energia aims to support the city’s target of a carbon-neutral future by increasing the use of renewable energy in its own power generation. Wood-based biogas is an excellent way to pursue these targets because its use does not require any alteration investments as regards our plants or the district heat network and therefore saves urban space. The gas network allows us to use renewable energy in an efficient, environmentally friendly and supply-secure manner,” says Helsingin Energias CEO Seppo Ruohonen.
According to the preliminary plan, Metsä-Botnia and its parent company Metsäliitto would be responsible for wood raw material procurement and biorefinery operation. The plan is to mainly produce biogas from forest chips and bark, both of which are available as by-products of pulp mill wood procurement. The production capacity of the planned refinery would be as high as 200 MW.
The planned biorefinery would gasify wood chips and refine them into at least 95% methane. The composition of the end product would therefore correspond to that of natural gas. According to the plan, Gasum would take care of biogas injection into the gas network and distribution to gas users.
”This is a national-scale project so its implementation will call for a contribution from the Finnish state. At the annual level the facility would produce a considerable amount of renewable biogas for use by Helsingin Energia and increase the amount of renewables in its production,” says CEO Seppo Ruohonen.
The companies are launching a feasibility study into the technical concept and business operating model of the biorefinery. The aim is to complete the information required for a possible investment decision by 2013. The construction of the refinery will take two to three years from the go-ahead decision.
If implemented, the project would contribute to the utilisation of forest raw material in Finland: biogas would be produced from local wood raw material in the biorefinery and transmitted along the Finnish gas network. Producing biogas from wood helps ensure fuel energy efficiency, environmental friendliness and ethicality throughout the entire fuel lifecycle.