Largest Waste-to-Energy Plant in Finland Comes Online
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.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.