THE WESTENERGY waste-to-energy facility might wrongly be seen as the final destination of the waste produced by half a million people, whose non-recyclable garbage is daily trucked off to the plant for treatment. In reality, however, the plant is much more: As a modern waste refinery, Westenergy does its fair share for the clean environment and the well-functioning infrastructure of Western Finland.
“In addition to being a part of the regional waste management system, we are a material recycler, a waste refiner. We take care of the waste fractions, which cannot be reused, and transform them into electricity, heating, recycled metals and construction materials”, explains Westenergy’s Managing Director Olli Alhoniemi.
Half of the district heating in the Vaasa region stems from this Korsholm-based facility and this heat is also used in biogas production at municipal waste management company Stormossen. Through its processes the plant removes harmful pollutants from circulation, thereby protectingwhat is said to be the cleanest air and water in the world.
“We take care of the environment by removing harmful components from the materials we produce. However, we don’t just remove, we also want to add to circulation,” says Juha Ripatti, Information Engineer at Westenergy.
SINCE WESTENERGY was founded in 2007, the company has operated at cost price by a circular economy business model, through which it has developed an understanding of how waste handling can answer to climate demands and help saving the scarce resources of our planet.
“We’re in a business of high social responsibility. While we attain our own strategic goals, we also enable reaching societal climate and circular economy targets. The Vaasa region has ambitious carbon neutrality goals of its own, to which our contribution plays a significant part”, says Alhoniemi.
AS A LEADER in waste refining and a circular economy pioneer, Westenergy aims to fully close the waste management loop by 2030 so that energy, materials, water and carbon dioxide circulate sustainably. While the plant’s advanced processes already ensure high levels of energy and material efficiency, the path to a closed loop continues through the investment of a flue gas condenser, installed in late 2019:
“Year by year we’ve been able to increase our efficiency. We haven’t settled and now the flue gas condenser will provide up to 25% more heat, increased abatement efficiency and a clear reduction in the carbon footprint of the local area – all without any added fuel consumption. Our next step is to look into our logistics, recycling and pretreatment processes, as well as new value-added products from our residues”, reveals Ripatti.
TO MEET its future targets, Westenergy cooperates closely with its owners (six municipal waste management companies), universities and the research platforms of the Vaasa energy cluster.
“To carry out our strategy, we develop projects with partners from the research and business community. With our business partners in particular, we hope to support entrepreneurship and create new business opportunities, new solutions and new job opportunities,” says Alhoniemi optimistically.
Furthermore, Westenergy wants to share the benefits of the research and its growing circular ecosystem by working as a hub of knowledge in its operational area. Alhoniemi and Ripatti see the Western Finland model as the answer to both local and global climate needs.
“The EU has ambitious circular economy and recycling targets, which will also require significant investments into sustainable waste-to-energy solutions by 2035. We want to share our knowledge and experience and export our well-working business model to other countries. By developing our local circular economy, we can act as an example for the rest world,” says Alhoniemi.
Business sector: Energy production from source-separated non-recyclable combustible waste
Electricity production: 115 GWh
Heat production: 370 GWh
Recovered materials: 35,000 tonnes/year
CO2 pollution reduction: 210,000 tonnes/year