The most significant environmental impacts from fuel-based energy production are related to flue-gas emissions. Emissions into water, waste or by-products can also have local impacts.
The environmental impacts of heat production are reduced with combustion technology, by scrubbing combustion gases and by switching fuels. The biggest reduction in emissions to air, particularly carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, are achieved by switching from fossil fuels to renewable fuels.
Heat plant emissions to air are regulated by plant-specific environmental permits, which require the monitoring and reporting of emissions. In 2014, we continued preparations for the investments needed to fulfil the emissions requirements set by the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED). The IED tightens the emissions requirements for practically all of our thermal power plants (CHP plants and condensing power plants) from 2016 onwards.
In Finland, we applied for new environmental permits in 2014 for all plants within the sphere of the directive. To reduce sulphur emissions, a switch was made from heavy fuel oil to light fuel oil at the Tapiola heat plant in Espoo, and the planning work to convert the heavy oil-fired boilers at the Kivenlahti heat plant in Espoo to pellet-fired boilers was started. Additionally, it was decided to install a flue-gas condenser at the Joensuu power plant in 2015; this will significantly reduce the plant’s particle and sulphur emissions.
Despite the measures implemented, the five-year average for specific carbon dioxide emissions from Fortum’s total energy production increased to 198 g/kWh, which is slightly less than the target level of 200 g/kWh. The five-year average for specific emissions has been on the rise in recent years, as the share of Russia’s production in calculating the average has increased.
Utilisation of by-products
Our European power plants utilise and recycle by-products as efficiently as possible. Gypsum produced at the Meri-Pori power plant is used as a raw material for the gypsum board industry. Ash is used in the construction industry, in road construction, in earthwork and in mine fills. CE-labelling for the bottom ash of CHP plants in Finland was received in 2014. By-products with no practical use found are piled in landfills.
In Russia, ash is stored in ash ponds because there are no
practical applications for it.
We improve energy efficiency
Better energy efficiency reduces the environmental impacts of energy production and use. Because of the high overall efficiency of CHP production, emissions per produced energy unit are lower than in electricity-only production. In fact, in recent years we have replaced several old production plants with more efficient CHP plants or units in Finland, Russia and the Baltic countries.
We apply the principle of continuous improvement in developing the energy efficiency of the existing plant base. The goal is to achieve annual energy savings of over 1,400 GWh by 2020 compared to 2012. This energy savings is equivalent to the annual heating demand of more than 75,000 households (18,500 kWh/household) or the annual energy production of more than two hundred 2.5-MW wind power
plants. In 2013-2014 we achieved about 680 GWh of this target, i.e. 49%.
In Chelyabinsk, Russia, the district heat networks of the CHP-1 and CHP-2 power plants were integrated. This helps to optimise power plant operations and enables the maximal use of CHP-1’s new gas turbine units. The estimated annual energy savings is 469 GWh.
We invested in a flue-gas condenser to be built at the Joensuu power plant. The condenser will be commissioned in 2015 and will save about 100 GWh of energy per year.