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This heating plant can now be purchased as a service
“Varmalämmitys is the one that runs the show. We will provide them with the end of a pipe into which they are going to produce heat.” This is how Mikko Rintamäki, CEO of Kokkolan Energia Ltd, describes the new heating plant built in the district of Kälviä. Supplied by Varmalämmitys Ltd, this is the very first plant offering thermal plant capacity as a service.
Varmalämmitys is a joint venture of KPA Unicon Ltd and Infranode, a Nordic infrastructure investor. KPA Unicon is responsible for the plant deliveries, and Infranode acts as a partner in infrastructure projects with a 25-year commitment.
The company will supply the Kälviä heating plant as a turnkey delivery. This means that Varmalämmitys is responsible for the design and construction of the plant as well as its operation and maintenance, including day-to-day operation, fuel procurement and plant maintenance.
“The new heating plant will replace the old one, whose life cycle has come to an end. The oil-fired boiler connected to the old plant will serve as a reserve power plant in the future,” says Rintamäki.
Kokkolan Energia will pay a monthly fee for using the plant owned by Varmalämmitys, but it will deliver and sell the energy produced itself. For Kokkolan Energia, the agreement means that there is no need to invest, nor to send staff resources to the plant, which will be built 20 km from the company’s nearest office.
“We wanted to continue our business activity in Kälviä in order to provide customers with affordable heat, and the only option was a new heating plant. We did examine different options, and we decided to choose a partner instead of an investment,” Rintamäki states.
Kokkolan Energia supplies electricity and heat to Kokkola homes. In addition to Central Kokkola, the district heating network also covers the districts of Kälviä and Lohtaja. In Kälviä, there are 66 district heat connections. Approximately 50 percent of those are households, and the remaining 50 percent are commercial, office, service and industrial buildings.
Heat will be provided to the network in the autumn
The plant in Kälviä will include one 3-megawatt Unicon Renegrate biofuel boiler. The efficient Unicon Renegrate combustion technology enables energy efficient use of renewable fuel, with a very low environmental burden. The technology is also well suited to varying load levels with different fuel compositions.
As an energy source, the plant will use renewable fuels such as wood chips, bark and forest residues. These fuels are by-products of the circular economy, mainly coming from the wood products industry as well as from forest harvest residues. The moisture content of the fuel to be used will be about 50 percent.
The plant has one approximately 300-cubic-meter silo. When the plant operates at full capacity, a full silo is sufficient for about a weekend.
The amount of small particles released into the atmosphere is minimized with a fiber filter. This type of filter achieves significantly lower particulate emissions than, for example, an electric filter. With this solution, the plant will comply with the stricter emission regulations which will go into effect in 2030.
PlantSys – Digital Service Platform
The plant will be equipped with PlantSys, KPA Unicon’s digital service platform. PlantSys will digitalize and make transparent the lifecycle management of the plant. Mobile-operated fuel and maintenance services are available in real time and will make using the plant easy and reliable. Timely and readily available information on the plant’s maintenance and production conditions increases predictability.
PlantSys makes remote plant operation possible, allowing the Kälviä plant to be connected to KPA Unicon’s service center in Haapavesi. From the service center, KPA Unicon will manage daily operations, and potential defects requiring manual repair will be resolved in co-operation with a local operator.
The construction work of the plant will start during the spring, and the plant is due to be completed in late autumn. The plant is modular in structure and it will be delivered to Kälviä in pre-assembled parts.
Kokkolan Energia has been responsible for finding the site where the plant will be built, and to determine how much heat is needed in Kälviä.
“From Kokkolan Energia, we have received the main parameters, i.e. the requirements we need to be able to fulfill. Practically speaking, we have received last year’s production figures, from which we can see how much power the network has required. On that basis, we have provided a solution that generates the heat demand of the Kälviä district,” says Teemu Koskela, Vice President of KPA Unicon Ltd.
An alternative to investment
The concept of thermal energy as a service launched by Varmalämmitys Ltd is targeted at heat producers in Finland, such as municipal energy companies and industry. Contracts are made ranging from 10 to 25 years. Shorter contracts mainly serve industry, whereas longer contracts serve municipal energy companies.
“Our service guarantees the usability of our plant throughout the contract period. In other words, we will ensure that the plant is working the entire contract period. The customer will receive a reliable and risk-free solution with foreseeable costs,” says Laura Männistö, an expert at Varmalämmitys Ltd.
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