One of Finland's major utilities, Pohjolan Voima generates electricity, steam, and district heat from a range of sources: hydropower, nuclear, combined heat and power, condensing plants, and wind farms. As it moves forward, the company is focusing on increasing its use of bioenergy considerably, and boosting its overall carbon dioxide-free capacity.
|The 20 MWe Kokkolan Voima power plant was completed in 2001 and is fired on a mix of wood, field energy crops, and peat. Copyright Pohjolan Voima Oy
Pohjolan Voima has invested heavily in new generating capacity over the last 15 years, and been involved in investments valued at close to €5 billion. When all of these projects are complete, Finland will gain some 4,000 MW of additional capacity. A number of further projects are also on the drawing board.
Projects are always implemented in cooperation with partners, in many cases a local combined heat and power (CHP) utility that can benefit from the risk-sharing and cost benefits of a Pohjolan Voima-led consortium.
Big on biopower
Biopower has been an important part of Pohjolan Voima's investments and generating portfolio for many years, and the company and its partners have invested over €1 billion in a total of 12 biofuel-fired plants since 1990.
These plants use a variety of inputs, including forestry by-products, such as thinnings and logging residue in the form of branches and stumps, reed canary grass, waste-derived fuel, and peat. Pohjolan Voima aims to make maximum use of biomass available from forest and arable land in the vicinity of plants.
All of these plants are CHP facilities that generate electricity, process steam, and district heat at high levels of overall efficiency.
Pohjolan Voima has paid particular attention to improving ways of collecting, storing, processing, and delivering logging residue for use as biofuel, and using biomass ash as a fertilizer.
The residue bale technique, for example, represents a valuable advance in making better use of logging residue, and has proved very useful in providing fuel for the 240 MWe Alholmens Kraft power plant. The latter is the world's largest biomass-fired plant, and began commercial generation in January 2002.
|Thinnings and logging residue are a valuable source of fuel for Pohjolan Voima's power plants. Copyright Pohjolan Voima Oy
Crushed stumps can also now be used as a fuel. In addition to increasing the potential for using a greater proportion of logging residue, removing stumps from felled land can help eliminate root rot fungus.
Alholmens Kraft, together with a number of other plants, also uses reed canary grass, a crop that Pohjolan Voima has been instrumental in promoting in Finland for large-scale energy generation use. Reed canary grass is an excellent energy source, due to its rapid renewal, large yield per hectare, and good combustion properties. Since reed canary grass grows naturally on marshy ground, areas such as lake and river shores can be used. Cultivation is also suitable for peat bogs once peat production has ended.
Water, wind, and nuclear
Pohjolan Voima's hydropower plants were mainly built in the 1950s and 1960s, but have been upgraded regularly to maintain their systems in optimum condition and enhance their output. Modifications at the Iijoki site, for example, are expected to yield some 40 MW of additional output over an extended time frame.
The company entered the wind arena in 2003, when it built its first 1 MW units. Its first 3 MW unit was commissioned in late 2004, using Winwind's advanced technology featuring a highly reliable planetary gear system and slowly rotating generator that combines the best features of direct drive and gear-based systems. Another seven 3 MW units are due to be completed in 2007 and 2008.
|Pohjolan Voima's first 3 MW wind power unit was completed at Oulu in 2004. Copyright Pohjolan Voima Oy
Part of the latter will form a 30 MW nearshore wind farm planned in the very north of the Gulf of Bothnia near Kemi. This represents a completely new type of project. No such facility has been built in Finland before, or anywhere else for that matter, in such demanding conditions.
Pohjolan Voima is also the majority shareholder in Teollisuuden Voima, which operates two nuclear reactors at Olkiluoto in southwest Finland (2 x 840 MWe) and is building a third reactor at the same site, rated at 1,600 MWe. For more on this project, see Page 40.