Finnish heat enterprises investing in solar power

Solar PV at Eno
Satellite picture based 3D model of the solar PV plant in Eno (Kim Blomqvist, Karelia UAS)

The heat entrepreneurs have been actively involved in the latest developments of the solar power in North Karelia, Finland. Several investments will take place this autumn to provide renewable electricity for district heating plants.

Finnish heat entrepreneurship is mostly based on biomass. The number of heating plants has increased steadily between the early establishments in 1990’s, to 330 plants in 2006 and 618 in 2015. About 25 % of the plants were connected to the district heating network, and the median size of the heating plants is 500 kW. The heat enterprises are mostly private companies (43%), cooperatives (12.7%) and other types of firms, mostly single entrepreneurs (44.5%).

The heat entrepreneurs have become increasingly interested in solar power integrated to the heating plans. The plans have stable electricity consumption profiles, i.e. less hourly variations compared to many other end-users. The systems require very limited service and maintenance work, and profitability is better than in solar thermal. The economic analyses indicate that the new investments in DH plans located in North Karelia will have approximately 11-15 years paybacks and 5-9 internal interest rates.

The Power from the Sun project, run by Kim Blomqvist from GREBE project partner Karelia UAS, has supported the establishment of the systems in four energy enterprises in Eno, Tuupovaara, Kiihtelysvaara, Kontiolahti and Biowin Karelia Ltd. The investments have received 25% energy support from the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation. Seven solar power plans have total capacity of 70 kW, varying between 5 to 21 kW, and estimated annual production is 52 000 kWh. The systems will be provided by a local company Mirotex Ltd. and installed in September.

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Heat Entrepreneurship generates significant benefits for the local economy

KUAS mid July

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.

Three Finnish companies selected for the Entrepreneurship Enabler Scheme

Eno energy 29-06-2017
Eno Energy Cooperative district heating plant.

An open call for businesses to participate in GREBEs Entrepreneurship Enabler Scheme (EES) in Finland was launched in April 5th and ended in May 12th.  The three companies to participate in the EES mentoring process during next autumn are Eno Energy Cooperative, Rajaforest Ltd. and Havel Ltd.

GREBE partner Karelia UAS shared information on the Finnish EES roll-out in public industry events and website. The scheme received the attention of SMEs considering renewing their business strategy and improving production development and efficiency. The selected companies are famous for long-term operation and innovation activities in forest energy.

Eno Energy Cooperative has been an example of heat entrepreneurship based on local forest raw materials. The cooperative with 54 members (mostly forest owners), was rewarded in 2014 as a Heat Entrepreneur/enterprise of the year. The cooperative is also famous as active developer in the sector, and generates significant socio-economic benefits to its surrounding region.

Rajaforest Ltd. is a forest contracting company and a heat enterprise. The company supplies timber and forest fuels, operates three municipal biomass district heating plant in Tohmajärvi, and owns and operates one in Kesälahti.

Havel Ltd. is a metal and plastic products manufacturer located in Ilomantsi. The company is a famous innovative product developer for forest technology and forest energy sector, among others. The company has also significant growth potential, in which GREBE EES can provide tailored support.

The EES in Finland has started with preliminary interviews and mentoring sessions will begin in autumn 2017.

Heat entrepreneurship meeting in Lieksa, Finland

Esa Kinnunen
Esa Kinnunen (Finnish Forest Centre) presenting the socio-economic benefits of the Eno Energy Co-op

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.