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Biomass Study Visit to Finland Organized for Experts from Serbia

Biomass Study Visit to Finland Organized for Experts from Serbia

From October 5th to 8th 2015, a biomass study visit to Finland was organised for the representatives of relevant ministries, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, regional development agencies and international organisations that promote using biomass in Serbia and the region. Finland, the world leader in biomass energy, presented country’s public policies and business practices throughout this tour providing a comprehensive lesson for Serbia – the novice in this area, but a beginner with significant resources.

The biomass study visit, was organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in scope of the Project „Reducing Barriers to Accelerate the Development of Biomass Markets in Serbia“, Embassy of Finland in Belgrade and Finpro – the institution which helps Finnish SMEs go international, encourages foreign direct investment in Finland and promotes tourism.

The Finnish national economy is to an exceptional extent based on value added derived from forests that cover 75 % of its territory, while private entities own more than 60%, and about 26 % is owned by the state. In 2010 the forestry sector accounted for 1.9%, the wood-products industry for 0.8%, and the pulp and paper industry for 2% of Finland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The forest sector has also an indirect effect on other industries, such as transport and mechanical industry. The percentage of total share of forestry, wood products and pulp&paper sectors in GDP is even more than 10% in some regions, such as South – Eastern and Eastern Finland.

In addition to direct added value, the forest sector contributes to the national economy through multiplier effects. Forests, forest bio-products and ecosystem services are estimated to continue to form an important part of Finland’s national economy in preparing to alleviate the impact of climate change and to produce wellbeing services for citizens.

Being a low-energy and carbon-neutral raw material, wood is expected to be much in demand in the production of renewable forest energy, in wood construction and in new bio-economy products. Because Finland’s use of wood is currently far lower than annual growth, Finland’s forests are a carbon sink, removing carbon from the atmosphere equivalent to about half of the carbon dioxide emissions from Finland’s industry per year and binding it into trees and soil.

The study visit began in Helsinki on 5th October 2015. This is when the representatives of Serbian Ministry of Mining and Energy, Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Regional Development Agency Srem, City of Sremska Mitrovica, Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities and UNDP met the representatives of Finnish government at Finpro.

After welcoming remarks of the host, Ms. Helena Saren from Finpro, the presentations with the focus on forestry management, forestry industry and sustainable forestry were delivered by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Ministry of Employment and Economy representatives, as well as representative of the Tapio Forest Development Centre. The Serbian delegation had the opportunity to discuss the relevant topics and exchange opinions and experiences with their Finnish colleagues.

On the same day the working evening for the participants of the study visit was organised and hosted by the Cleantech Finland Bioenergy – a network of companies and experts involved in forestry and bioenergy. The network brings the bioenergy and clean technologies (cleantech) solutions and expertise to companies and public-sector organisations and connects potential investors and partners with the best bioenergy experts on the market. After the welcome address, Mr. Eero Seppälä, the Project Manager, briefly informed the guests about the mission and scope of activities of Cleantech Finland Bioenergy and gave the floor to representatives of companies KPA Unicon and Clean Flame. KPA Unicon is a company with a long lasting tradition in construction of energy plants and manufacturing of their components. It is also specialised in designing combustion technologies for power plants and different kinds of pressure equipment (such as boilers) and steel structures. The company offers a wide range of biomass, oil and gas boiler plant solutions for use in industry and district heating, including financing and leasing. The company Cleanflame is specialised in designing and manufacturing of burner systems. Apart from this, it designs and manufactures other engineering and energy technology products and equipment such as valve sets, pump aggregates and bed lances, including automatic burner control systems. In addition to the presentations of the companies, short films on MGH Systems wood management and Gebwell comprehensive solutions for district heating were shown.

The working evening was also attended by the former Ambassador of Finland in Serbia, Mr. Pekka Orpana. Being among the initiators of this study visit Mr. Orpana took the opportunity to welcome Serbian group in his capacity as Senior Advisor in External Energy Relations and Climate Policy of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The second study visit day focused on the technologies and solutions related to the renewable energy projects and innovations, so the successful practices from the Finnish biomass business were presented to the Serbian delegation.

The first company presented was the Farmi Forests Ltd which specializes in designing and manufacturing tractor-mounted equipment for forest logistics and biomass production and has been a global pioneer since 1962. This was followed by the video presentation on the LHM Hakkuri Ltd which produces giant chippers, while the third company introduced was Protacon Ltd dealing in consulting, design and engineering, implementation, and maintenance. This company with eight offices and 200 employees is known for its long-term customer relationships, commitment to deliveries and an open-minded approach to modern technologies. The morning session ended with the Orjala Trade and Consulting Ltd offering a range of solutions for project investment, including visibility studies for biomass projects.

After the break, a family owned company founded in 1945 – Saalasti Ltd – was presented as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of wood based biomass processing machines. The practice of this company comprises odf 70 years’ experience in heavy machinery and over 30 years’ experience in bioenergy. This company was followed by quite a different one – 15 year old Doranova Ltd dealing in soil and groundwater remediation based on novel innovative in situ and on-site methods. St1 Biofuels Ltd was presented afterwards, along with its expertise in biochemical processes, technology development, engineering, and project delivery. The core idea of this company is to replace fossil fuels in a profitable and sustainable way. The company is the pioneer in waste-based bioethanol production with several plants in Finland.

The next presentation was about Outotec Ltd which delivers tailored solutions for minerals and metals processing, water treatment, and producing energy from biomass and wastes. Outotec’s unique position at the forefront of these industries is founded on a century of scientific and operational knowledge and a wide range of applications for virtually all types of ores and minerals. The day ended with sharing information about Indufor Ltd- an independent consulting group with global operations, providing clients with forest solutions that are cost-effective, sustainable and responsible.

On their third day in Finland the participants of the biomass study tour visited CHP Plant in Vuosaari which operates in scope of Helsinki energy production company Helen Ltd and CHP plant Keravan Energia in Keravan. Both visits were aimed at sharing knowledge and experience in the area of combined heat and power production.

During the 1950s, the City of Helsinki was heated using wood, oil and coal. Nowadays, district heating is the most popular form of heating in Helsinki with total of 2200 MW of installed capacity and 400.000 customers, while 90% of it is provided through combined heat and power (CHP) production. Besides heating, Helsinki DH provides also domestic hot water for most of consumers connected to a network. Helen Ltd also operates a unique district heating and cooling plant which supplies the buildings in the centre of Helsinki. The output capacity of Vuosaari Plant (A+B) is 160+485 MW of electricity and 165+410 MW of heat. The delegation from Serbia could get familiar with the clean technologies enabling excellent heating, and discuss their application.

Keravan CHP plant supplies heat for the City of Kerava and the Municipality of Sipoo. The plant uses wood chips as the primary fuel (70%) and the peat as a secondary fuel. Its capacity is 21 MW of electricity and 52 MW of heat output of which 41 MW is aimed at district heating and 10 MW output is used for a process heat in the nearby brewery. The study tour partakers had a unique opportunity to get insight into plant biomass logistics including biomass supply, storing, handling and boiler feeding. Also, engineers from the power plant have explained and presented the specificities of biomass combustion in fluidise bed.

The last evening in Helsinki the participants from Serbia spent with Mr. Marko Nokkala, the representative of VTT. The evening passed in informal setting and cheerful atmosphere.

On the last study visit day, the delegation from Serbia had the opportunity to visit the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in Bioruukki the leading research and development institute in the Nordic countries and get familiar with practical biofuels solutions. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd has a national mandate and provides expert services for domestic and international customers and partners. Bioruukki Center combines expertise in chemistry, energy and biomass processing. Being a research and development facility the Bioruukki Center provides the opportunity to study which bio-refinery concepts and ideas are both technically and economically feasible. This applies particularly to the development of production methods for biofuels and valuable chemicals. The group from Serbia was informed about the research and development work in area of chemical processing and combustion. In addition, it got a unique opportunity to closely observe the gasification and pyrolysis facilities, which operate in scope of the pilot plant.

The tour to Finland enabled the Serbian biomass pioneers to get familiar with the best practices of the world biomass leader, and get a solid basis for applying this knowledge into the future work of the institutions from Serbian public and private sectors.