Fortum’s new bio-oil plant has been commissioned in Joensuu, Finland. Producing bio-oil from wood based raw materials, Fortum says the plant is the first of its kind in the world on an industrial scale (See Video Below). The bio-oil plant is unique in that it has been integrated with Fortum’s Joensuu combined heat and power plant.
Bio-oil is produced from forest residues, wood from first thinnings and other wood biomass, such as forest industry by-products, sourced locally from the Joensuu region. The bio-oil production will increase Fortum’s wood use in energy production in Joensuu from 300,000 to 450,000 solid cubic meters per year. The Joensuu bio-oil plant’s annual production of 50,000 metric tons corresponds to the heating needs of more than 10,000 households.
The employment impact of the bio-oil production plant project has been estimated to be about 60–70 man-years in the Joensuu region. Jobs are created in raw material sourcing, at the production plant and in logistics.
Finnish Parliament Member and Chair of the Commerce Committee Mauri Pekkarinen and Fortum’s Chief Financial Officer Markus Rauramo inaugurated the bio-oil plant in Joensuu on Friday, November 29.
“I am very pleased that our long planned pyrolysis project has now reached this stage. The use of bio-oil has significant positive environmental impacts because energy produced with bio-oil reduces carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 90% or more compared to fossil fuels. We aim for continuous development and growth of the business in CO2-free energy production. Consequently, this investment aligns very well with our strategy,” CFO Markus Rauramo noted in his inaugural speech.
Fortum Otso® bio-oil can be used at heat plants or in industrial steam production as a replacement for heavy and light fuel oil. In the future, bio-oil can be used as a raw material for various biochemicals or traffic fuels.
In October, Fortum signed its first agreement to supply bio-oil produced in Joensuu to Savon Voima, which will use the bio-oil to replace the use of heavy and light fuel oil in its district heat production in Iisalmi. Additionally, Fortum will use bio-oil in its own heat plants in Joensuu and in Vermo, Espoo.
Joensuu’s bio-oil plant is based on so-called fast pyrolysis technology in which wood biomass is rapidly heated in oxygen-free conditions. As a result of the heating, the biomass decomposes and forms gases that are then condensed into oil. Fortum has invested about 30 million euros in its bio-oil plant and in modification work to its heat plants, and the project has received about 8 million euros in government investment subsidies. Development and conceptualization of the new technology has been done collaboratively between Fortum, Metso, UPM and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The research has been part of TEKES – the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation’s Biorefine program.