EPV Heat produces electricity and heat in its CHP plants in Vaasa, Seinäjoki, Tornio and Raahe. In addition, it produces peat and acquires wood-based fuels for the production of electricity and district heating in the Seinäjoki and Vaasa regions.

2017 was a year of organisational changes and large investments. The objective of both is to improve the company’s future competitiveness and to prepare for future fuel challenges.

The largest individual change was the merging of the organisation of Vaskiluodon Voima’s power plants in Seinäjoki and Vaasa, though organisational changes were also carried out in other associated companies. Several investment decisions targeted at power plants and peat production progressed to their implementation phase.

Vaskiluodon Voima’s organisational change brought considerable cost benefits

Vaskiluodon Voima implemented an organisational change in 2017 which involved the introduction of a new organisational model at the beginning of the year, merging the Vaasa and Seinäjoki plants into one, centrally-governed organisation. The implementation was carried out according to plan and the efficiency targets were achieved. Further action taken included, for example, the merging of laboratory operations. The success of the organisational change has considerably increased the plants’ cost-effectiveness and production of added value.

Investments at Vaskiluodon Voima

Vaskiluodon Voima’s power plant in Vaasa had a good year technically, but due to the high world market price of fuels in relation to the market price of electricity, its productivity was the lowest ever in the company’s history. The plant’s annual service was carried out over two weeks and included the customary service and maintenance operations. The operating time of the gasification plant was maximised and the plant was also used for generating condensing power.

Organisational change increased cost-effectiveness

The annual output of the Seinäjoki plant was approximately 35% lower than the previous year, due largely to the technical challenges of investment projects and the related prolonged downtime. The replacement of the plant’s low-pressure turbine rotor, including the implementation and installation stages, was scheduled to begin in the middle of June and to continue for 11 weeks. However, the condenser’s re-piping, which was carried out at the same time, took considerably longer than anticipated, and the plant was not re-started until mid-October. In terms of size, this was an extensive job, with more than 10,000 pipes installed in total in the condenser and district heating exchanger.

Raahen Voima’s renewed boiler plant

2017 was Raahen Voima’s refurbished boiler plant’s first whole year in operation since its installation in 2016. Over the year, some fine adjustments were made to improve the plant’s operation, but power generation was carried out according to plan without any great challenges. The organisation was also methodically reinforced throughout the year and at the end of the year, Aki Hakulinen, who also acts as the CEO of Tornion Voima, was named the CEO. Raahen Voima’s LNG terminal project has proceeded according to plan and its first LNG delivery is expected to arrive in the spring of 2018.

Tornion Voima’s first LNG boiler complete

The Tornio power plant has functioned very well technically and its fault times have remained moderate. Implemented in 2017, the project involving changing the burners of reserve boilers proceeded according to plan and the first boiler was converted at the beginning of December. Thanks to the conversion, the plant can now burn LNG and carbon monoxide, which reduces its consumption of heavy fuel oil. The alteration work continues with the other boilers and they are expected to be completed during 2018.

Tornion Voima invests in LNG

Tornion Voima also made some significant new investment decisions. The boiler of the Kemi Mine will be converted into one that burns LNG. The factors underlying this decision are the tightening of the regulations concerning the use of heavy fuel oil in small and medium-sized combustion plants. Another decision that was made is to begin using progressive heat pump technology to heat combustion air. This is an extremely forward-looking energy efficiency investment, which will enable the utilisation of new technologies in the operations of thermal power stations.

Peat production volumes low – projects advancing

On the whole, peat production in 2017 was poor, with production volumes close to the lowest figures in EPV Energy’s history, reaching only half of the planned volume. This was due to an extremely rainy summer. This was also the reason for the slow progress of some repair work, though the majority of peat production projects advanced swiftly.

The repair and construction work in Hangasneva mostly took place in 2017. Last year, field ditches were dug in approximately 80% of the area, i.e. 160 hectares, and some of the area became ready for production. This is a project of significant size, as the Hangasneva area totals approximately 300 hectares.

Another important milestone was the annulment of the appeal concerning Märkäneva (Våtmossa in Swedish) in Malax and the consequent coming into force of the environmental permit. The repair work of Jaurinneva in Isokyrö continued and the project is proceeding towards production. Repair work at Voitonneva in Seinäjoki continued and this project also moved forward towards production, in part even more quickly than planned.

Question marks still exist over fuels

The flow of by-products from sawmills as fuel for power plants has increased considerably over the year and forms a significant portion of all the fuels used. Due to the rainy summer, the moisture content of the fuels in the latter part of the year was relatively high.

Because the production and availability of domestic fuel presents some challenges due, for example, to the restriction on the use of commercial timber for subsidised electricity generation, which will come into effect in the near future, the company’s programme for the coming year will include the changing and broadening of its range of fuels. Over the last year, the company has already strengthened its ability to acquire fuel from abroad when necessary.