The largest biomass gasification project in the world is being planned for Finland. Global engineering and technology corporation, Metso, is behind the venture, due to go ahead at the Vaskiluodon Voima Oy plant in Vaasa.
By using Metso's technology to replace coal with wood-based renewables, the plant will be able to supply around 140 MW to the grid, making the operation the largest of its kind worldwide.
It's expected that 25% to 40% of the coal currently used will be replaced by wood based biomasses, such as forest residues. Coal will still be used to combust the gas provided by the biomass, however, the plant can expect to see a reduction in CO2 emissions of about 230,000 tonnes annually.
The project has meant an investment by Vaskiluodon Voima to the tune of €40 million and is expected to be in full operation towards the tail end of 2012. Metso will be in charge of developing the fuel handling system, the drying plant and the gasifier, as well as modifying the supporting infrastructure for the existing coal-firing system. Juhani Isakssun, a Product Manager for Metso, said:
"The majority of the world's energy production is still heavily relying on coal. Metso's new bio-gasification technology, including biomass drying, offers a new cost-effective alternative for large coal-fired plants to increase the share of biomass and reduce to the proportion of coal and emissions."
Metso's technology is thought to be a relatively low cost and fast way of deploying bioenergy efficiently, as surplus heat from the plant in reused in a specially designed drying facility. By doing so, wet biomass becomes an affordable option for large-scale operations, such as the one at Vaasa. Sourcing biomass locally instead of importing coal will also provide new jobs in the area.
The project places Finland in an enviable position with regards to the use of renewables in energy production. Current legislation stipulates that all EU states must provide 20% of all energy from renewables by 2020 and Finland is well ahead. Currently, 25% of Finland's energy consumption comes from renewables and the country is aiming to reach 38% by 2020.
Top Image Credit: © Metso