Specialising in the production of electricity and heat, EPV Energy is a strong player and trailblazer within the Finnish energy sector. The company resolutely invests in zero emission or highly efficient energy production. Among EPV’s achievements are one of the largest wind power farms in Finland and adopting globally unique solutions for utilising domestic biofuels. EPV produces energy for its owners, i.e. Finnish energy companies, and is therefore often involved in the most significant energy projects in the country and a shareholder in several Nordic hydroelectric power stations.
“We produce 5% of all the electricity consumed in Finland. We also produce district heating for industrial use and for urban areas in four combined heat and power (CHP) plants in different parts of the country,” says Mats Söderlund, Vice President, Thermal Power Production.
EPV has gone from strength to strength, even though the market and investment environment for energy production has been unstable, even difficult, over the last few years. Many investment projects have experienced legislation and taxation changes before their completion. That is why Söderlund calls for more far-sighted and long-term decision making and a free energy market.
“The sector is currently so well regulated that it doesn’t work on market terms. We need strategic targets and thorough groundwork from decision-makers. They need to look at the overall picture of energy production, not just case by case,” he says.
In this challenging market situation, Finland’s own generation of electricity is not enough to cover consumption, and the need for balancing power is continuously growing. One solution, in addition to hydroelectric power, is innovative and flexible energy production, which is what EPV is developing to meet the challenge. For example, the CHP plant of EPV’s subsidiary, Vaasa’s Vaskiluodon Voima, now has a progressive wood biomass gasification plant built next to it, the first large-scale plant of its kind in the world. It allows 30% of coal to be replaced with renewable biofuels. When energy prices are low and the heat demand moderate, the power plant can be run on just gasified biomass fuel. Also, Vaskiluodon Voima has invested in a wood-chipping machine for small-diameter trees for the plant.
“It helps us to ensure that the gasification plant is used effectively, while further increasing fuel flexibility. At the same time, we burn less and less coal, and the money we invest in fuel will stay in this region,” Söderlund says.
EPV invests in locally sourced fuels.
“Our biomass fuel is mainly procured from within a 100 kilometre radius of the power plant. This reduces transport emissions, brings money to local trade and industry and creates business and employment opportunities in the region,” Söderlund explains.
EPV’s strategy is to increase the share of domestic biofuels and reduce imported fossil fuels. Consequently it is actively involved in the local fuel market and its development. It also produces its own peat and acquires wood-based biofuels.
EPV ENERGY LTD
Business sector: Electricity and heat production and transmission
Electricity procurement: 4.1 TWh
Heat procurement: 1.2 TWh
Turnover 2014: €249 million