Vantaa Energy’s journey towards climate-neutral energy production started at the beginning of the decade. In just a few years, the company has considerably reduced emissions from production, and energy is generated with more sustainable methods. This has been possible mainly through the use of waste-to-energy and bioenergy plants. As a result of their commissioning, Vantaa Energy has cut carbon dioxide emissions and the use of fossil fuels to less than half of the 2010 level.
The most important step to enable non-coal use at Vantaa Energy is the extension of the current waste-to-energy plant. Completed in 2014, Vantaa Energy’s waste-to-energy plant produces electricity and heat from non-recyclable mixed household waste. After completion, the extension that has now been approved for construction will be using about 200,000 tonnes of non-recyclable commercial and industrial waste as fuel. Until now, this waste has been exported for utilisation abroad. The extension investment of the waste-to-energy plant is significant in terms of the environment and economy: in future, waste can be utilised cost-effectively in Finland while the carbon dioxide emissions of Vantaa Energy will be reduced by another 25 per cent.
“With the extension of the waste-to-energy plant, we will be able to cease the use of coal in a profitable way and without any cost impacts to our customers. We want to carry on implementing these bold, pro-climate measures also in the future. We want to be a driver for change in the energy sector. We are actively and with an open mind seeking the best possible methods of producing energy in a smart and sustainable way and at a reasonable price,” summarises CEO of Vantaa Energy Jukka Toivonenthe company’s outlook.
Greener heat at a more stable price
In 2014, Vantaa Energy opened the waste-to-energy plant where the mixed waste of 1.5 million residents of Southern Finland is utilised for heat production. After that, the old decommissioned boiler located in Martinlaakso was modified into a bioenergy heating plant. The main fuel used at the plant is sustainable biomass, i.e. domestic, locally sourced wood chips, such as surplus industrial wood chips, sawdust and scrap pieces from the plywood industry.
Now, an extension of the waste-to-energy plant with an increasingly stronger focus on the circular economy is under construction in Vantaa. When the raw materials suitable for use in combined heat and power generation are locally sourced, the costs will be reduced. Vantaa Energy is independent of imported fossil fuels and the fluctuations of their global market prices.
“What is particularly good about this is that we have succeeded in abandoning fossil fuels in a cost-effective way. This is great news for our customers as, when looking into the future, the price of heat in Vantaa will remain stable for a long time to come,” enthuses Ilkka Reko, head of Vantaa Energy’s heat business.
Carbon dioxide emissions reduced to zero
In future, heat will be produced at Vantaa in increasingly diverse ways. The objective is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to zero. Currently, Vantaa Energy is investigating, e.g. the utilisation of industrial waste heat in heat production. Another promising alternative for emission-free heat production, geothermal heat, is also visible in the near future. Geothermal heat is ancient heat stored deep in the earth’s crust, and its utilisation in heat and electricity production for households is investigated in Vantaa and elsewhere in Finland. That means that in the future customers will be able to choose the method of producing the heat that they purchase for their homes. The heat network is a channel, through which renewable heat produced efficiently in different ways will travel to the customer.
“All in all, the heat situation of Vantaa residents is excellent. We are able to offer our local residents heat at a price that is the lowest in the Helsinki region, and in the summer our heat is the cheapest in Finland. Low prices do not mean compromising environmental sustainability, on the contrary. All our heat will be renewable in the future. And that is something we all at Vantaa Energy are really proud of,” Ilkka Reko rejoices.