While Northern Europe may not be exactly a hotbed of solar activity, they do one thing exceeding well: transform waste into energy.
Vantaa Energia officially opened the largest waste-to-energy plant in Finland this week, marking the country’s strong commitment to WtE efforts. The plant, which is located outside of capitol city Helsinki in Vantaa, is the biggest of its kind in the country. With a generating capacity of 920 GWh, it’s expected to power 50% of district heating demands and 30% of Vantaa’s electricity.
The plant achieves this immense power production by burning waste collected from the surrounding areas of Uusimaa, a region which includes Helsinki.
The plant has been undergoing testing since the spring and is the largest investment Vantaa Energia has ever made. It will also replace a unit at the company’s existing incinerator in Malminlaakso, another city in the greater Helsinki area.
Not only will the plant help generate power, but it will also help reduce waste, as it will process an estimated 320,000 tons annually. It uses grate-fire technology, which is the most commonly used form of WtE tech around the world.
This large amount of waste utilized will help Vantaa Energia’s carbon dioxide emissions drop by 20% and reduce its fossil fuel dependency by 30%.
In the end, combating climate change is Vantaa Energia’s main objective, Patti Laukkanen, the company’s CEO said. The plant’s emissions will be continually monitored and it will be shut down if they are above a certain limit.
There is also a certain amount of competitiveness tied in to the plant, as Finland’s neighbor, Sweden, is the world’s leader in WtE. While Sweden utilizes 99% of its waste through recycling or WtE efforts, Finland only uses 40%. There’s quite a bit of ground to cover to catch up, the this plant is a big step forward.