Annual meeting of the Finnish Heat Entrepreneurs in North Karelia was organised by the Finnish Forest Centre in April 4th Kontiolahti. The event focused on the energy wood markets and current development challenges, new harvesting method trials, drying of wood by using excess heat of energy plants, and socio-economic impacts of local heat entrepreneurships. After the meeting, participants had a visit to the Kontiolahti 1.5 MW heating plant equipped with a 7.6 kW solar power system.
Adjunct professor Yrjö Nuutinen from LUKE introduced latest research on the new corridor thinning method. The method – with 1-2 thinning corridors harvested in different formations – has been earlier applied in Sweden, US and Canada. Now the corridor thinning is studied and tested for pine dominated first thinning stands in Finland, aiming that it will be a generally accepted thinning method and it fulfills the forest management requirements of Forestry Centre.
The latest results on the socio-economic impacts of Eno Energy Cooperative were presented by GREBE partner Dr Lasse Okkonen from Karelia UAS. The total employment impacts of the Eno Energy Cooperative in 2000-2015, were approximately 160 FTE’s and total income impact in the same period about 6.6 MEUR. During the period of highest oil prices, over 50% of the benefits resulted from heating cost savings of both private households and public sector.
Bioeconomy expert Urpo Hassinen, from the Finnish Forest Centre, presented the latest results on the firewood drying by utilising excess heat of the heating plants. There was potential, especially when existing infrastructure could be utilised. Drying of woodfuel could also compensate the decreasing heat demand resulting from closure of public estates in rural areas.
CEO Janne Tahvanainen presented the market outlook from an industry perspective. The market fluctuations, caused by the weather challenges in last summer and autumn, as well as varying imports from Russia, were discussed. Weather challenges were considered a most important factor affecting current markets. For instance snow damages have increased harvesting volumes in northern part of North Karelia, and moist summers and autumns have affected biomass drying. Impacts of weather conditions on RE markets are being further investigated through the GREBE project during this spring.
An ongoing study by Karelia UAS, Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) and Finnish Forest Centre analyses local socio-economic impacts of heat entrepreneurship based on local wood fuels.
The study focuses on the case of Eno Energy Cooperative – a local heat enterprise producing annually about 15 500 MWh heat with local woodchips for both public and private customers.
In Eno, replacing heating oil with renewable alternative has resulted 4.1 MEUR cost savings in 2001-2015. The savings, resulting mainly from significant price difference, are allocated to both public municipal customers (1.8 MEUR) and private household customers (2.3 MEUR). As this income is further invested, it generates additional socio-economic benefits. Assuming that public sector used the savings for local social services and households for local retail/commerce, additional induced socio-economic income impact was about 2.85 MEUR and employment impact about 75 jobs.
These impacts, resulting of cost savings, are very significant for the local economy. As the study continues, also the forest owners’ benefits, impacts of the plant construction, and the economic supports will be considered in detail.
Eno Energy Cooperative attends GREBE EES Scheme in Finland (autumn 2017). The Co-op also shares actively identified practices through the networks of heat entrepreneurs both regionally and nationally, and is also know reference site for international visitors.
The heat entrepreneurs of North Karelia and Savo regions met in Lieksa to discuss the recent development of the sector. The meeting of entrepreneurs and bioenergy developers focused on the work safety aspects, the potential of the solar energy systems integrated in district heating, and the socio-economic benefits of bioenergy.
The importance of the work safety issue was emphasized by presentations on risk assessments, safety issues along the supply-chain and at the heating plant, and on legislation requirements. Practical examples were given on the realised risks – such as deaths in silos – and how they could have been avoided.
Eno Energy Cooperative is a famous example of a heat enterprise positively affecting at the regional economy. Bioenergy and bioeconomy specialist Esa Kinnunen from the Finnish Forest Centre presented the latest socio-economic study of the Eno Energy Co-op. The estimated socio-economic impacts of cost savings (i.e. replacing heating oil with renewable biomass) during the past 15 years have been about 75 jobs and 2.8 MEUR.
The heat entrepreneurs are considering investments on the solar energy systems integrated in the DH plans; technical and economic aspects of the PV and solar thermal were presented by Karelia UAS Renewable energy specialist Kim Blomqvist. Kim also presented the currently open GREBE Entrepreneurship Enabler Scheme call for local enterprises in Finland – heat entrepreneurs are among the key target groups of the scheme.