We aim to achieve carbon-neutral electricity and heat generation by 2030.
In 2020, the proportion of EPV Energy’s production that came from:
- renewable energy sources was 44.3 per cent
- emission-free energy sources was 85.2 per cent
EPV Energy generates and acquires electricity and heat for its shareholders, i.e. Finnish energy companies. EPV Energy has almost 70 years of experience in responsible energy generation. We focus on emission-free and reliable energy generation with determination and purpose. At EPV Energy, we have greatly improved our range of energy generation, resulting in significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.
In 2020, EPV again increased the share of wind power in its energy generation
EPV Energy is one of the leading operators in Finland in the industrial-scale generation of wind power. The company started its wind power programme as early as 2006. In 2020, approximately 25.6 per cent of EPV’s energy generation came from wind power. Wind power is one of the company’s most important energy generation methods, and EPV aims to keep increasing its share within the Group.
The construction of the fifth wind power plant progressed on schedule, and preparations for the sixth one have already started
In 2020, EPV Energy continued the building of its fifth wind power plant in Paskoonharju, Teuva. The project is a market-based wind power investment. Construction of EPV Group’s fifth industrial-scale wind farm is expected to be finalised in 2022.
The farm’s construction proceeded on schedule in 2020, with the foundations laid for all 21 new wind turbines. The infrastructure and substation were also completed by the end of the year. Once completed, the farm will have a total of 23 wind turbines. The wind power plant’s annual production volume will be approximately 400,000 megawatt hours of electricity.
The preparations for EPV’s sixth wind power plant started in November 2020 in Norrskogen, Närpes. The preliminary work will have been completed by the beginning of February 2021. The majority of the project area will not be cleared until the final investment decision on the farm has been made.
EPV’s wind power development has always had its basis in the long-term perspective, and having our projects driven by the market has been our goal right from the start. That goal has now been achieved. With the completion of the Teuva project, EPV Energy Group’s wind power companies’ annual output is set to exceed one terawatt-hour.
2020, the year of the current wind farms
2020 was a record-breaking year in terms of production for all EPV’s wind power plants. Their joint total production was as much as 868 GWh.
There were two unusual events in September at the Metsälä wind farm where the blade of a turbine broke and fell down at the foot of the turbine tower. Both events were linked to thunderstorms and lightning strikes. More detailed technical investigations of the incidents and corrective action will continue during spring 2021.
EPV Energy takes responsibility for its wind farms throughout their life cycle
EPV Energy takes responsibility for the smooth functioning and safety of its wind farms throughout their life cycle. This also includes reuse and recycling of the sites where the wind turbines are located.
The sites of the wind farms can be reused, depending on the technology and energy solutions used in them. New wind turbines can be built to replace decommissioned ones if the municipality or landowner so wishes. The site is valuable in itself, because of the roads and electrical network built there. Above all, the site has the advantage that there is detailed information available about the wind conditions in the area over a long period.
If reuse is not possible, the wind farms will be dismantled as a whole, and EPV will be responsible for this dismantling and for making sure that all the turbine parts are removed from the site. EPV Energy is committed to zero-waste wind farms, meaning that it strives to achieve a value chain that does not create waste materials but, instead, all materials are reused if possible.
Most of our turbine parts can already be recycled. For the time being, the parts most difficult to recycle are the turbine blades, which are composed of materials that are difficult to separate. Although wind farms will not be dismantled on a large scale in Finland until the 2030s, composite plastic waste is also created in other sectors, and the challenges and alternatives for recycling composite materials are being widely sought throughout the country. There are also many kinds of development projects under way at EU level that are researching how turbine towers or the materials from wind turbine blades could be reused in the future.
We produce emission-free base load power and balancing power for renewable forms of energy
In the EPV Power business area, hydropower and nuclear power are generated by EPV’s affiliated and associated companies:
- Pohjolan Voima
- Teollisuuden Voima
When produced in a responsible way, nuclear power is an environmentally friendly and safe way of producing electricity throughout its lifespan. The lifespan of nuclear power plants is several decades, and they produce emission-free electricity in a similar manner to hydropower and wind power.
Nuclear power is an important ingredient in the future of zero-emission electricity production
Nuclear power does not generate greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants. The difference between nuclear power and wind and solar power is the fact that nuclear power is not dependent on the weather.
Teollisuuden Voima is an energy company that produces electricity at the Olkiluoto nuclear power station in Eurajoki with two plant units, Olkiluoto 1 and Olkiluoto 2.
In March 2019, the Finnish Government granted an operating licence to Teollisuuden Voima Oyj’s (TVO) OL3 nuclear power plant unit that is being completed in Olkiluoto, Eurajoki. The licence is valid until the end of 2038. According to TVO’s current schedule, the Olkiluoto 3 plant unit will begin regular electricity production in the early part of 2022.
Nuclear power will play an important role in emission-free energy generation in Finland and Europe far into the future. It is a very important form of energy generation also for EPV Energy and one of the most important instruments for achieving the company’s carbon-neutral targets.
In 2020, nuclear power made up 36 per cent of EPV’s energy generation
For approximately 40 years, Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) has produced nuclear power for EPV Energy from Olkiluoto 1 and 2 nuclear power stations. Additionally, we are involved in the Olkiluoto 3 project. In 2020, nuclear power represented 36 per cent of EPV’s power procurement. Olkiluoto 3 will double EPV’s nuclear power production. By 2025, nuclear power is expected to make up approximately 40 per cent of EPV’s energy generation.
Nuclear power plays a crucial role in electricity generation in Finland and in achieving zero-emission targets. Currently, approximately 33 per cent of Finland’s electricity generation is produced with nuclear power. In the future, nuclear power is estimated to make up almost 45 per cent of Finland’s power generation.
The IPCC climate report has raised a great deal of debate about nuclear power once again. Nuclear power and hydropower are currently the most important forms of emission-free electricity production. For example, approximately 50 per cent of Europe’s emission-free electricity production is generated with nuclear power. One of the key arguments for building more nuclear power facilities is that it will facilitate the achievement of climate targets.
The construction of a permanent repository for nuclear waste is on the home stretch
The final disposal of radioactive waste has been solved in Finland. Teollisuuden Voima Oyj and Fortum Power and Heat Oy have established Posiva Oy to carry out research on the final disposal of the spent fuel rods from their nuclear power stations and to implement the disposal in practice. The spent nuclear fuel will be permanently disposed of deep in the bedrock of Olkiluoto in Eurajoki.
Finland is a pioneer in the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel. It is the only country in the world to have progressed to the implementation phase of final disposal. Many countries that use nuclear energy have final disposal facilities for low and intermediate-level waste, but no other country has started the final disposal of high-level spent nuclear fuel. The final disposal solution for spent nuclear fuel in Finland has been planned with highly detailed precision. Posiva has proceeded purposefully towards the implementation of this final disposal while keeping to the schedule, because it is time we take responsibility and stop putting off the decision and trusting that future generations will take care of it.
The responsibility for nuclear waste management belongs to nuclear power companies, whose duty it is to take care of the actions necessary in managing nuclear waste and to bear the costs of these actions. In accordance with the Nuclear Energy Act, nuclear waste generated in Finland must be handled, stored and permanently disposed of in Finland, and nuclear waste from other countries must not be imported.
Plenty of time has been reserved for the preparation and practical implementation of final disposal. Thorough preparations and careful implementation will ensure the safety of the final disposal measures taken.
- The preparations for final disposal of nuclear waste began in the 1980s.
- In 2000, Olkiluoto in Eurajoki was selected as the disposal site.
- In 2012, the licence application for the construction of a final disposal facility was submitted.
- In November 2015, the licence for construction was granted.
- In 2020, the application for the operating licence was submitted according to the current schedule. The plan is to start final disposal during the 2020s.
Producer of hydropower actively maintains and develops water environments
Our associated company, Pohjolan Voima (PVO), produces hydroelectric power in Finland. The company actively maintains and develops water environments by:
- restoring shorelines
- fish stocking and transporting
- cooperating in projects that aim to restore migratory fish stocks
PVO-Vesivoima launched a new project for the River Iijoki in order to boost its migratory fish population. The project involves building migratory passage structures by the Haapakoski power plant for smolts, i.e. young salmon or trout, to swim to the sea and equipment for capturing them.
EPV Energy is also a part owner of Voimapiha Oy, which delivers renewable energy from Swedish hydroelectric power plants to its shareholders. Voimapiha is also indirectly involved in Sweden’s hydroelectric power fund, which began its activities in early 2019. The hydroelectric power fund’s shareholders are responsible for 95 per cent of Sweden’s hydropower production. In the future, hydroelectric power plants will be able to apply for funding from the fund for new environmental investments. In 2020, hydroelectric power represented 11.4 per cent of EPV’s power procurement.
Commissioning thermal energy storage caverns will bring flexibility for future energy generation
In 2020, the largest thermal energy storage (TES) facility in Finland was put into operation in Vaskiluoto, Vaasa. It will diversify the region’s thermal energy generation both now and in the future. The power plant will be responsible for charging, and heat will be discharged from the TES system to be used in the region’s district heating network. The TES facility will act as an optimisation tool within EPV’s energy generation portfolio. It will reduce EPV Energy’s use of coal on average by 30 per cent and bring flexibility to the energy generation solutions of the future.
- The total capacity of the caverns used for thermal energy storage is 210,000 m3.
- The TES facility has a charge and discharge capacity of 100 MW.
In the future, the TES facility can be utilised regardless of the production method. The flexibility afforded by the TES facility is a key factor in EPV’s energy generation system and will continue to be, even after the life cycle of the current plants has come to an end. The technology constructed on the site will be easy to modernise and adapt for new purposes as required. For example, the potential future hydrogen project will be connected to it, and the caverns can be heated using wind, solar or some other renewable energy source, while utilising electric boiler technology.
A test run of the TES facility took place in the summer of 2020 and the first charge operation was carried out using the surplus thermal energy from the Westenergy waste-to-energy plant. The thermal energy storage facility is managed by Vaasan Voima Oy.
Tornion Voima switched from oil to liquid natural gas, and its energy cooperation with Outokumpu was expanded
Oil was abandoned and replaced with liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the heat generation for Tornion Voima’s mine in Kemi, as planned. The LNG-fired boiler and the downcast shaft of the LNG heating system were completed on schedule in the autumn of 2020. This procedure put a stop to the particle emissions resulting from the mine’s heat generation operations and will reduce its CO2, SO2 and NOx emissions.
The energy cooperation between Tornion Voima and Outokumpu Chrome was expanded. At the end of the year, Tornion Voima purchased from Outokumpu:
- 2 heat recovery steam generators
- a district heating battery
- a district cooling plant
- a sea water pump station
The aim of the cooperation is resource optimisation. At the same time, it allows Tornion Voima to serve its heating customers within the area better than ever.
Power plants taking part in the Energy Efficiency Agreements programme
All CHP plants of which EPV Energy owns at least a 50 per cent share have already been part of the Energy Efficiency Agreements programme for years. These plants include:
- Vaskiluodon Voima Oy
- Seinäjoen Voima Oy
- Tornion Voima Oy
The Energy Efficiency Agreements programme actively drives us to seek out areas in which we can improve our energy efficiency. With the resulting measures, we are improving the efficiency of our power plants, which can be seen in falling emissions and greater cost savings.
The Seinäjoen Voima and Vaskiluodon Voima power plants were audited in accordance with environmental management system certification
In addition to the Energy Efficiency Agreements, the power plants Seinäjoen Voima and Vaskiluodon Voima have also been granted the ISO 140001:2015 certification for environmental management systems and the ETJ+ Energy Efficiency System. In 2020, both plants were audited for certification purposes.
Seinäjoen Voima’s environmental management systems and energy efficiency systems passed the audit’s requirements without anomalies and were recertified. Vaskiluodon Voima also completed the audit with very few anomalies.
Auditing sustains energy efficiency and responsibility
In addition to external auditing, EPV carries out internal targeted auditing directed at EPV Energy Ltd’s Group companies. In 2020, ten internal audits were carried out in the company focused on, for example:
- the company’s wind power plants under construction and already in use
- power plants’ energy efficiency, cleanliness and chemicals
- peat production areas
The purpose of the auditing is to monitor the responsibility of the Group companies’ operations. The audit results can also be utilised to standardise different companies’ practices. When planning audits, any statements and complaints made by public authorities concerning the object of the audit are taken into account, as are any observations made about accidents and hazardous situations.
Every company has its own auditing programme. The audits are reported and the target company’s representatives and main contractors operating in the area are notified at a sufficient level about the results of the audits. The implementation of the necessary corrective action is monitored by EPV Energy and, when needed, also through additional inspection visits.
Tirelessly developing energy efficiency
EPV will continue its work to improve energy efficiency in 2021 by employing new measures. For example, the consumption of compressed air is being optimised at Vaskiluodon Voima, and heating is being reduced in little used facilities. Seinäjoen Voima is currently engaging in preliminary planning work for building a district heating battery.
The pandemic brought changes to procedures and schedules
Over the year, a large number of steps were taken and measures were introduced in EPV Heat’s thermal power stations with the aim of minimising the risk of COVID-19 infections. Despite the pandemic, the annual maintenance of all the plants was performed on time, the plants remained in production and none of the personnel were exposed to, or became ill with, the coronavirus during the year.
The environmental permits of both the Vaasa and Seinäjoki power plants were renewed the previous year and, had the deadline for CHP plants to implement improvement projects not been extended due to the pandemic, the new environmental permit parameters would have come into force in July 2020. The restrictions on labour mobility brought on by the coronavirus pandemic prevented the completion of emission reduction projects within the set deadline. The ELY Centre granted both plants an extension for completing these modernisation projects. At Seinäjoen Voima, the work was completed by the end of 2020, while at Vaskiluodon Voima it will be completed in the spring of 2021. In connection with the modernisation, new selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) systems, which allow the injection of urea to control the nitrogen oxide emissions, were installed at both 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. 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 investments worth several millions of euros. These measures will allow the plants to control emissions within the framework of the limits set and in compliance with the environmental permit.
Planning the sustainable after-use of peat production areas
In terms of security of supply, peat continued to be an important fuel for EPV, but the after-use of peat production areas was also an important topic discussed in 2020. The planning of the after-use and the process of abandoning these areas continued. For example, the plan to turn a former peat production area in Lapua into an industrial-scale solar farm is under way.
A peat production area that has been phased out will grow over with grass and bushes fairly quickly, often within a couple of years. How quickly this growth begins depends of the thickness of the remaining peat layer, the topography of the subsoil, water economy, the closeness and type of subsoil, the seed-bearing vegetation nearby, etc. Growth conditions for various purposes can be improved, for example, by:
- optimising the water economy
The after-use of peat production areas is usually decided case-specifically. Alternative after-uses include, for example:
- solar power production
- crop cultivation
- creating a bird wetland
Turning a peat bog into an industrial-scale solar farm
EPV Energy has started the planning of industrial-scale solar farms on its peat bogs that are being phased out. A layer of vegetation has already been removed from them earlier and there is little growth of any kind, because a peat bog will remain without vegetation for the length of the production stage.
In terms of solar power, we will focus on a few large-scale production areas. The utilisation of phased-out peat production areas as solar power farms does not require clearing trees, tree stumps or the top layer of vegetation, which would all reduce the carbon sink. Additionally, using the phased-out peat bogs for solar power production does not create the added pressure of crop cultivation or other agriculture such as cattle farming.
It is important to take biodiversity into account in all land use.
Biodiversity refers to three different levels:
- genetic diversity within a species
- species diversity
- ecosystem diversity
Most often biodiversity is used to refer to the abundance of species. The more species there are, the higher the diversity of species. Ecosystem diversity refers to the abundance of different habitats. For example, in the middle of a dry, peaty forest, biodiversity may even be low, because the only habitat on offer is the dry, peaty forest.