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Successful Waste-to-Energy Project in Finland

The Riikinvoima Ekovoimalaitos Waste-to-Energy (WtE) plant began operating near the town of Varkaus in Eastern Finland in October 2016. The plant receives 145,000 tonnes of sourcesorted municipal waste a year as fuel, and it generates 180 GWh of district heat and 90 GWh of electricity for the surrounding region.

According to the managing director of Riikinvoima Oy, Mr Juha Räsänen, the plant has been operating even better than expected. The performance of the plant has also been excellent, and it has achieved the planned utilisation rates. “There have been some challenges with processing the municipal waste, but that has not affected production”, Räsänen says.

Long-term co-operation with ÅF Finland

ÅF Finland has provided a variety of consulting services for Riikinvoima throughout the entire project, beginning back in 2011. Initially, we conducted a feasibility study that, among other things, compared two different combustion methods: grate and fluidized bed. Circulating fluidized bed (CFB) technology was selected to promote the circular economy and new technology, as well as the higher steam parameters from the boiler. In 2014, ÅF conducted the EPC Tendering work including preparing the technical specification, handling the tender evaluation negotiations, and completing the contract. The procurement was handled as a public procurement process, and the project execution model was EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) turnkey from Andritz.

Following the procurement phase, we continued to operate in a FIDIC Engineer role, providing Owner’s Engineering services to assist our client with the technical and commercial supervision of the EPC contract, general project management, supervision of the EPC delivery documentation, quality control, and site supervision, as well as supervising the testing and trial runs.

The plant is the only WtE plant in Finland designed for only municipal solid waste that uses circulating fluidized bed technology. The plant also treats the waste before incineration in an extensive pre-treatment plant.

According to Räsänen, the reasons for choosing ÅF included ÅF’s strong experience in both engineering and construction management of waste-to-energy plants and in executing EPC projects.

ÅF’s manager for WtE and renewables, Mr Peter Kling, explains that this plant represents a combination of the circular economy and waste-to-energy with a high utilisation rate in power and heat. It is a perfect example of ÅF’s special abilities and expertise in the Waste-to-Energy sector.

Challenges of the project

“This EPC project was implemented a bit differently to how things are normally done in Finland. Although the responsibility in the EPC project lies mainly with the EPC contractor, supervision of the documentation in both production and implementation was significant. It was important to show that we require quality at every stage of the project. The 26-month schedule was very tight, so the pressure started as soon as the project began and continued until the handover of the plant. There was no choice but to do the construction work simultaneously with the equipment procurement, which means that you can’t always avoid reconstruction. However, despite the tight schedule, the construction work was completed almost according to the original schedule, and the plant’s first test incinerations with waste fuel were also almost in line with the original plan”, Räsänen states.

Saving the environment for the common good

Riikinvoima’s plant helps to protect the environment by replacing the use of fossil fuels. Replacing coal and fuel oil with municipal waste reduces carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 100,000–200,000 tonnes a year. The reduction in waste sent to landfill is another important environmental factor, as this means that the amount of harmful methane emissions will also fall. Methane is more than 20 times as harmful to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. This plant produces clean energy, which is processed from source sorted municipal waste in a power plant using state-of-the-art technology. It also significantly contributes to the sorting, recycling and re-use of materials.

ÅF International Division provides solutions for waste-to-energy, sludge and biomass applications. At the moment over 3 million tonnes of waste per year is incinerated in ÅF-designed WtE plants. We have worked with plants and projects in Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, South Korea, Chile, Hong Kong and Poland. With our long experience in this field, we can manage a range of plant solutions as well as combustion and flue gas cleaning technologies.