The history of Vaasan Voima
In the late 1960s, energy consumption started to increase and Finland needed more electricity production capacity. EPV Energy Ltd and Pohjolan Voima Oy established a new company, Vaskiluodon Voima Oy, with equal shares. The task of this joint company was to build a power plant in Vaskiluoto, Vaasa, that would produce both electricity and heat. The plant was completed in 1972. It had an electrical output of 160 MW and was fuelled by heavy fuel oil.
The oil crisis of the 1970s prompted Vaskiluodon Voima to look for a more economical fuel, and coal was chosen as the new energy source. A new coal-fired boiler was built and commissioned in 1982. The old heavy fuel oil boiler was stored for future use.
Vaskiluodon Voima expanded its operations significantly in the late 1980s by building a new power plant in Seinäjoki. At the time, the Seinäjoki plant produced 125 MW of electricity and 100 MW of district heating. The fuels chosen for the new plant were biofuels and energy peat, with the latter being the most natural source of energy in the region, thanks to local peat resources.
In 1996, Vaskiluodon Voima decided to increase the capacity of its coal-fired boiler in Vaasa by about 30% and to build a new turbine plant with an increased electrical capacity of 230 MW. The updated power plant was commissioned in autumn 1998.
In 2012, the world’s largest biomass gasification plant with a fuel capacity of 140 MW was completed in Vaskiluoto, Vaasa. Thanks to the gasification plant, the coal-fired power plant can also use wood and arable energy, as well as energy peat as fuel. Gas produced from domestic biofuels replaces 25–40% of the coal used at the time.
The gasification plant reduces the carbon dioxide emissions of the Vaasa power plant by about 230,000 tonnes per year. At the same time, new jobs are created, especially in biomass supply. The gasification plant’s permanent annual impact on employment is roughly 100 person-workyears.
Over the years, many upgrades have been made to various parts and components of the power plants and the site in Vaasa in order to reduce emissions. For example, in 2019, during the annual maintenance of the power plant, a new Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction (SNCR) system was installed in the main boiler to reduce nitrogen oxides in the combustion process. Ammonia, a decomposition product of urea in flue gases, reacts with the nitric oxide (NO) molecules in the flue gas to form nitrogen and water. As a result, we significantly reduce the nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions resulting from the combustion process. Another major annual maintenance item was the power plant’s desulphurisation plant, involving the servicing of its flue gas cleaning system. The extraction system keeps the emissions from the stack under control. The desulphurisation plant filters out up to more than 99% of the sulphur dioxide emissions from the flue gases.
In 2020, a thermal energy storage (TES) facility was opened in Vaskiluoto, diversifying heat production in the area. This innovative TES facility will play a crucial role also in the future. The facility can be used into the future regardless of the production mode, making it an excellent example of sector coupling. The Vaskiluoto TES facility is the largest energy reserve in use in Finland*. The total volume of the caverns used for energy storage is 210,000 m3 and the facility has a charge and discharge capacity of 100 MW.
A new electric boiler was put into operation in Vaskiluoto, Vaasa. The electric boiler is an important component of the clean heat generation system of the future and an essential part of EPV’s adjustable production capacity. This electric boiler project provides excellent support for the needs of the future energy system that involves sector coupling.
The electricity storage and production solution based on renewable hydrogen production that is being planned for the Vaskiluoto power plant site in Vaasa received a boost when the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland granted the project investment aid of more than EUR 14 million in December 2021. EPV Energy, Vaasan Sähkö and Wärtsilä aim to build a Power-to-X-to-Power system that will enable a new way of storing renewable energy. It will also make it possible to pilot a hydrogen-based energy production solution that is suitable for the global export market.
Vaskiluodon Voima becomes Vaasan Voima. In accordance with the asset acquisition signed in 2019, Vaskiluodon Voima’s operations were transferred to Vaasan Voima as of the 1st of January 2023. At the same time, its entire staff became employees of Vaasan Voima. Vaasan Voima Oy is a subsidiary of EPV Energy and wholly owned by it. The company will continue its main task of producing heating and electricity for the needs of the Vaasa region. Together with our partners, we will continue to work tirelessly to make the energy solutions used in Vaskiluoto, Vaasa, emission-free.