Wednesday, 24 March 2021
German based biogas firm Weltec Biopower, recently commissioned a biogas plant in Southwest Finland. The plant is based upon anaerobic digestion (AD) technology utilising only livestock wastes from local farms as feed and is the result of a collaboration between Weltec and local Finnish biogas company Doranova.
The facilities at the Turku site include a 250 kW Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant and a nearly 5000 cubic meter stainless steel digester. The AD plant is expected to handle up to 40 000 tonnes of pig manure per year.
The biogas in a sense is a byproduct of the entire undertaking; one of the main aims being a reduction in the nutrients entering the Baltic Sea and other nearby bodies of water which leads to imbalances in the ecosystem via an unwanted process known as 'eutrophication'.
The operation of the plant leads to the collection of the dung, and after being processed by AD, the remaining material (digestate) which is full of nutrients can be dispersed back into the soils on the farm rather than inadvertently migrating to water sources.
By 2025, the Nordic nation is expected to be recycling 50 percent of the 17.3 million tons of animal manure being produced annually, which will lead to more green power but also the protection of the water sources.
"Such efficient nutrient recycling effectively prevents the eutrophication of the water system and eliminates the need for elaborately produced artificial fertiliser", says Mikko Saalasti, Head of the Biogas department of Doranova.
The Weltec project offers a glimpse into some of the challenges facing biogas operations in remote Nordic environments, namely the cold climate (requiring heating to handle manure slurries) and economies of scale (smaller operation with high marginal production costs; other environmental objectives must be used to justify the investment).
Nevertheless, Finland has a maturing biogas market ripe with opportunities. The nation has a BM certificate registry operated by the state Transmission System Operator (TSO) Gasum Oy and hosted by Grexel. According to the EU Observer biogas barometer, Finland placed 11th in primary biogas production among EU-27 nations (that is, excluding UK).
Support is available to biogas and biomethane producers in Finland via investment aid and exemptions from certain taxes.
However, most of the biogas produced in the nation is used directly for CHP purposes - according to the EBA around a third of the biogas produced in Finland in 2019 was converted to biomethane, amounting to 150 GWh.