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World‘s largest biomass plant launched in Finland

140MW bio-gasification plant in Vaasa set to cut coal use by 40%

The plant is the latest development in large scale biomass gasification

The world's largest biomass gasification plant has been inaugurated in Finland. Firm Vaskiluodon Voima Oy has launched the 140MW plant in Vaasa, which is expected to cut coal use by 40 per cent. 

The technology for the plant has been supplied by Finnish process technology firm Metso. The company said the plant is ground-breaking because it is the first time biomass gasification has been adopted on such a large scale for the replacement of fossil fuels.

The technology of the new plant is based on Metso’s long-term development work. Metso’s delivery includes fuel handling, a large-scale dryer and a circulating fluidised bed gasifier, as well as modification work on an existing coal boiler and a Metso DNA automation system.

Jyrki Holmala, President of Metso’s Power business line, said: “I’m sure that Vaskiluoto’s investment in increasing the use of renewable energy will draw major international attention. Coal powered plants can be made greener and Vaskiluoto’s plant is leading the way.

“Coal boilers still account for the majority of power production in the world,” Holmala added. “Bio-gasification technology of this scale offers a new, cost-effective option for increasing the share of biomass and, consequently, for significantly decreasing the use of and emissions from coal.”

Plant construction

The bio-gasification plant was constructed as part of an existing coal-fired power plant. The produced gas will be combusted along with coal in the existing coal boiler.

The contract for the new plant was announced in June 2011, and Metso started the construction at Vaskiluoto in April in 2012, which made the construction phase fairly short.

Mauri Blomberg, managing director, Vaskiluodon Voima, said: “The operational experiences so far indicate that the 140MW bio-gasification plant functions as planned, and the produced gas burns cleanly in the coal boiler and reduces emissions.”

Renewable energy turnaround

Nearly half of the coal used by the plant can be replaced with gasified biomass. This makes the solution highly environmentally friendly, enables the flexible use of different fuels and significantly extends the life of the current power plant.

“The commissioning of the gasification plant is a major step in our company’s target of using mainly domestic fuels for heat and electricity production. This can be considered a complete energy turnaround,” said Rami Vuola, chairman of the board of Vaskiluodon Voima.

The recent gasification technology projects are an indication of Metso’s strategy of offering energy solutions in which technologies related to fuel refining have been brought forth alongside traditional combustion. In May 2012, a similar event was held in Lahti, Finland, with the inauguration of the world’s first waste gasification plant.