May 17, 2020

Water as a Renewable Resource

Harri Kerminen
4 min
President & CEO Harri Kerminen of Finnish chemical giant Kemira discusses water as a renewable, yet scarce resource


Kemira is a multinational two billion euro Finnish chemicals company servicing various water-intensive industries.  The company offers both qualitative and quantitative management solutions to improve clients’ energy, water and raw material efficiency.  With operations spanning the paper, oil, mining, municipal, industrial and chemical products sectors, Kemira has developed a reputation as one of the leading industrial water cycle management companies in the world.

In an exclusive interview with Energy Digital, Kemira President and CEO Harri Kerminen discusses the crucial role that responsible water cycle management will play in coming decades.

What challenges do you see the world facing in regard to water cycle management in coming decades, especially considering variables such as population increase, and reduced availability of naturally occurring potable water? How will Kemira address such challenges?

Water scarcity will be increasingly an issue. By 2050 the need for fresh water will increase by 100 percent. By 2030 the gap between the supply and demand for water will be 40 percent.  Solving it will require new technologies and combinations of technologies. Current technologies will not be enough.  This is one reason why Kemira has established SWEET–Center of Water Efficiency Excellence together with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and other partners.

What is your perspective on the dangers threatening water supplies in our pursuit of energy security, such as nuclear waste as seen in the Japan crisis, oil spills as witnessed in BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill, and natural gas shale hydraulic fracturing?   

Incidents like Gulf of Mexico and Fukushima are serious issues for water contamination. The latest incidents tell that we need to increasingly make sure that we work safely and with high tech solutions in order to preent these from happening.

On the other hand, if something happens, we need to have a better readiness to act fast and efficiently to minimize consequences to people and nature. For instance, it would be good if water technology companies would unite forces to investigate what are the best practices to treat radioactive water.

Hydraulic fracturing needs to be conducted in a safe way that will not contaminate nature. Kemira can help in decreasing the amount of water used and enabling the reuse of water in the process.

Can technology save us from these dangers, or is increased conservation the solution? Can a balance between the two be achieved?

Conservation is needed for emergency situations. But mistakes can happen. We have to be able to develop more advanced technological solutions to help us in the future if something happens. Risk evaluation is critical for judging where the limit is for what kind of operations can be allowed.

What are some worst-case scenarios if drinkable water production doesn’t meet population growth trends fast enough?

India is already witnessing this. The population grows faster than the surrounding infrastructure. Wastewater is not cleaned adequately and thus contaminates the potable water. This leads to high mortality and diseases in countries that cannot control their population growth.

What role will water play in promoting next generation fuels—such as hydrogen, algae biofuels, etc.—and how is Kemira positioning itself to take advantage of these emerging markets?

Algae biofuels are interesting for us.  We are researching it.  Water plays a major role in the next generation fuels. This could open, in the long-term, totally new opportunities for Kemira.

How has the economic situation in recent years affected the industry?

It has slowed down the growth of the industry, caused profitability problems and that chemical industry is increasingly moving to China.

Are there any exciting projects recently or in the works that are unique to Kemira, perhaps utilizing advanced and/or proprietary technologies? 

We are working with many new projects within the SWEET program, but they are still in an early phase and we cannot disclose the details. The three main areas of SWEET are water reuse, biomass utilization and sustainable chemistry.  We are very interested in working with universities, research institutes and other companies to innovate. Innovations usually happen in the crossroads of different disciplines.

What are some trends you are noticing in the industry?

Making potable water out of wastewater—reuse of wastewater—creating as closed a water loop as possible in industry to minimize the intake of water.

If you were gone tomorrow, what is the one message you would want to leave to the world? 

Our planet is precious.  Take care of it.

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Jun 14, 2021

W3 Energy signs technical operations contract with Luxcara

Dominic Ellis
3 min
W3 Energy and Luxcara sign technical operations contract ahead of Global Wind Day tomorrow and new study showing Poland leading Europe's growth

W3 Energy has signed a contract with Luxcara for onsite technical operations management for the Önusberget wind farm, which is Europe's largest single onshore wind farm. 

The wind farm, located outside of Piteå in northern Sweden, plans to have 137 wind turbines on full installation, with an expected capacity of more than 750 MW.

W3 Energy will be responsible for onsite technical operations management and local accounting services as well as operation and maintenance of the electrical infrastructure and transformer stations.

"This contract strengthens our position as a key player in onsite technical operations management. The Önusberget wind farm is the largest single-site wind power project in Europe and we are proud that Luxcara gives us the trust to support with the operational management of their investment", says W3 Energy's COO André Sjöström.

"The contract with Luxcara is extremely important to us and means that we take a firm grip on our home region. This contract allows us to continue to grow and we plan to continue to recruit in Piteå, Umeå, and Skellefteå."

The new contract with Luxcara means that W3 Energy manages approximately 15% of the renewable energy produced in Sweden and lays the foundation for continuing to build growth in other regions.

"Luxcara is an internationally respected asset manager in renewable energy, with high-quality investment criteria and a strong focus on diversity and sustainability. We share their view on sustainability, with a strong focus on environmental as well as social and ethical aspects", stated W3 Energy's CEO Pär Dunder.

Its past engagement with W3 combined with their track record from other large projects and their local experience were decisive factors for choosing W3 Energy, according to Philip Sander, Managing Director of Luxcara.

Global Wind Day will be held tomorrow (June 15), to promote wind's potential to reshape our energy systems, decarbonise economies and boost jobs and economic growth.

Onshore wind is now the cheapest form of new power generation in most of Europe, and offshore wind is not far behind with costs having fallen over 60% in three years, according to WindEurope.

Adrian Timbus, ETIPWind Chairman, said: “Wind energy can help electrify 75% of Europe’s energy demand and thereby deliver climate neutrality by 2050. But we must prioritise the development of the necessary technologies: next generation onshore and offshore turbines, electrification solutions for transport and for industry, and electrolysers for renewable hydrogen.”

Poland leads Europe's wind growth

Poland saw Europe's biggest increase in wind turbine energy production between 2000 and 2018, according to a Save on Energy study, and produced the fourteenth highest percentage of electricity by wind power overall in 2018. 

Czechia has seen second highest percentage increase in electricity production generated by wind power. Despite having the second lowest proportion of electricity generated by wind power in 2018, the country previously produced the lowest percentage overall in 2000, so it has still seen a significant increase in wind turbine energy production over the years.

France has the third largest increase in wind turbine energy production throughout the period studied, with electricity production generated by wind power increasing from 0.009% in 2000, to 4.9% in 2018, while neighbouring Belgium experienced the fourth highest increase in wind energy production, with almost 10% of electricity produced being generated by wind power in 2018, compared to 0.02% in 2000.

Although Ukraine boasted the lowest percentage of electricity produced by wind turbines in 2018 (0.7%), the country had the fifth largest percentage increase since 2000, since only 0.003% of electricity production was generated by wind turbines.

By comparison, Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain each ranked as having the lowest percentage increases when it came to the percentage of electricity production generated by wind turbines between 2000 and 2018, and they lag considerably behind other European nations.

The EU wants wind to account for 50% of the continent's electricity by 2050. The Romanian Wind Energy Association recently launched a Code of Good Practice for renewable energy.

Top 10 countries in Europe for wind growth

1. Poland
2. Czechia
3. France
4. Belgium
5. Ukraine
6. Turkey
7. Norway
8. Austria
9. UK
10. Finland 

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