EPV Heat produces electricity and heat in its CHP plants in Vaasa, Seinäjoki, Tornio and Raahe. In addition, it produces peat and acquires wood-based fuels for the production of electricity and district heating in the Seinäjoki and Vaasa regions.
2018 was a year of important business transactions and investments within EPV Heat’s business area. The activities of the Seinäjoki power plant were purchased in their entirety and are now owned by EPV Energy. Investment decisions on new technologies make power plants more efficient.
EPV Energy has developed a new storage solution for heat energy which will reduce its use of coal by more than 30 per cent. Heat will be stored in the old oil storage caverns underneath the Vaskiluodon Voima power plant. When complete, the heat storage facility will be the largest in Finland, with a storage capacity of 7,000–9,000 megawatt hours of energy. The system of caverns will be 210,000 m3 in size and located 30 metres below ground. The storage facility will be completed in 2020.
According to Mats Söderlund, Chief Business Officer at EPV Heat, the planned heat storage facility in Vaskiluoto will balance out production peaks in district heating and also allow more flexible use of the power plant.
“This is a solution that is not dependent on production technology or fuel and which works well alongside our existing heating systems. The heat storage facility also significantly contributes to EPV’s transition to renewable and carbon-neutral energy sources for its overall heat generation,” Söderlund explains.
New power plant technology to reduce emissions in Vaasa and Seinäjoki
The reformed Environmental Protection Act and tightened emission caps call for investments at the Vaskiluodon Voima and Seinäjoen Voima power plants. In 2019, investment decisions were made on selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) systems that allow the injection of urea to control the nitrogen oxide emissions at the Seinäjoki and Vaasa plants. In addition, a large investment was made in Seinäjoki on a lime feed system that binds sulphur.
In both Seinäjoki and Vaasa, the phasing of the boiler’s combustion air was changed to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. Nitrogen oxide is formed at a certain temperature and consequently adjusting the boiler and air will result in reduced emissions. According to Söderlund, this is one of the primary methods of emission reduction and it also lowers the need for chemicals and climatic stress.
“Considering the service life of the plants, these are large measures, amounting to several millions worth of investments. These measures will allow us to control emissions within the framework of the limits set and in compliance with the environmental licence,” Söderlund says.
New data link to optimise district heating production in Seinäjoki
EPV made the existing collaboration between the Seinäjoki power plant and Seinäjoen Energia even closer by building a data link that will make it possible to control the district heating boilers also from the power plant. An optimisation system was created to support the control of production. With the optimisation system, in future the power plant and the district heating production will be run in such a way that it will allow the maximum utilisation of all the energy markets. The model indicates when it is practical to produce district heating with separate boilers and use the power plant for electricity production as much as possible. It will also reveal when it makes sense to charge superheat into the district heating network so that the plant’s heat production can soon after be reduced and electricity production boosted.
“The optimisation model will allow us to create a more accurate production profile to correspond with the market. The system has already been put into operation in Seinäjoki and a similar project is under way in Vaasa and will be launched in 2020,” he says.
New ownership arrangements agreed for the Vaasa power plant
EPV Energy and Pohjolan Voima currently own Vaskiluodon Voima’s plant in Vaasa fifty-fifty. However, the companies have agreed on the reorganisation of ownership. In 2023, the production activities and personnel of the Vaasa plant will be transferred to Vaasan Voima Oy. Vaasan Voima was founded by EPV Energy and is a subsidiary wholly owned by it. The operations of the Vaskiluoto power plant will continue as before for the time being, despite the arrangements.
The infrastructure of the area around the Vaskiluodon Voima power plant was altered for the Wärtsilä construction site
In 2019, the construction of the Wärtsilä Smart Technology Hub caused a great many changes in the area of the Vaskiluodon Voima power plant. The infrastructure in the area, such as water connections, sewerage, underground cabling and road infrastructure were altered significantly, resulting in the power plant area becoming considerably smaller.
Tornion Voima invests in a natural gas system
Tornion Voima made two investment decisions concerning the Outokumpu mine in order to reduce its emissions. It will build a small LNG terminal at the Kemi Mine and increase its heat production capacity.
“Tornion Voima has bought two 1.5 MW boilers from Outokumpu for this purpose and made the decision to invest in a new 4 MW boiler,” says Söderlund.
All the boilers will be modified for natural gas, and a LNG tank with a capacity of 100 cubic metres will be built in the LNG terminal. The project will be fully completed in the autumn of 2020.
“The project reflects Outokumpu’s desire to collaborate with the same partners on many fronts,” Söderlund says.
Raahen Voima remodelled its boiler and automation and made a decision to modernise its water supply system
EPV’s affiliated company Raahen Voima carried out a remodelling of its boiler and automation in order to prepare for a transfer to burning natural gas. At the end of 2019, the boilers were undergoing a trial run.
Raahen Voima made a decision to modernise its water supply system. These facilities produce purified process water for the power plant and steel factory. The reform project covers a precipitation facility, settling basins and tanks and the waterworks process equipment itself.
“The water supply system was previously owned by SSAB, but with this project the Raahen Voima has become the organisation to carry out the new water system,” explains Söderlund.
Over 2019, Raahen Voima’s production has been restricted due to the top overhaul of the blast furnace and the technical challenges of the LNG terminal. The problems with the LNG terminal were mainly due to the breakage of the steam generators.
New uses sought for peat production areas
EPV Bioturve’s peat production was very successful in 2019. Compared to 2018, its record year, its production volume in 2019 was approximately 80 per cent. The dry season reduced discharges to almost zero, which is why emissions to water bodies were at a minimum in their respective areas.
EPV has sold some bog areas strategically and also abandoned some licenced bog areas. According to Söderlund, the reason behind this is the optimisation of the current ownership of the peat area.
“The after-use opportunities of peat areas have also been looked into and taken into account and if it was discovered that EPV had no strategic use for them the areas were sold or are being sold. In today’s society, the future of peat in energy generation is a question mark,” he adds.
Woodtracker has capitalised on the supply of biomass abroad
Together with five other Finnish energy companies, EPV has established Woodtracker Oy whose operative activities have begun. The company has procured biomass on the international energy market in order to secure the quantity of energy material. Timber damaged by insects and forest fire and felled by wind, among other types, has been acquired as burn fractions.
EPM Metsä Oy’s quantities delivered have remained similar to previous years. Trading pulpwood for forest industry by-products has been an important business practice.
“Our goal is to create an established trade practice where we provide the forest industry with pulpwood and they give us, for example, sawdust or bark in exchange,” says Söderlund.
EPV Energy’s electricity acquisition
Total heat production of Vaskiluodon Voima and Tornion Voima