Central Finland – the Forest Bioeconomy Centre of Finland
The region of Central Finland has a strong agriculture and forestry sector and long traditions in forest-based bioeconomy. Forests in the region account 9% of the national forest resources. The export rate of high added value bio-based products is high and the sector employs professionals throughout the region.
Forest based bioeconomy derives from sustainable forestry and consists of diverse use of forest biomass. The region has a strong level of specialization in machinery and equipment, paper and pulp, wood products, forestry, production of vehicles, and education and training related to forest-based bioeconomy. Increased activity in forest pulp utilization also creates a momentum for construction sector due to increased availability of roundwood.
Bioenergy and innovative bioproducts
Metsä Group designed the world’s first next-generation bioproduct mill to Äänekoski in Central Finland in 2017. This is a perfect example of new business opportunities in bioeconomy. MetsäFibre produces high quality pulp and side products, such as pine oil, electricity and solid biofuels. The mill produces bioenergy equivalent to 2% of national increase in renewable energy, provides 2 500 jobs in the value chain and creates new possibilities especially for SMEs to produce innovative high value added bioproducts.
Biogas production in Central Finland is based on the utilization of municipal waste, waste waters and side streams from the agricultural sector (manure, grass). The region has technological know-how on this area, and the potential to replace over 10 % of the region’s fossil oil use in transport by biogas has major importance for regional economy. New production and refining methods require novel machinery and equipment; in Central Finland there are skills and know-how to provide these. Innovative professionals participating in the development of these tools create modern solutions and competitive businesses.
The growing bioeconomy sector requires variety of skills and competences. Education institutes cooperate closely with firms to create motivated and skilled professionals. Enterprises and education institutes together with actors from the public sector create capacity for bioeconomy in the region. Joint development projects of research institutes, universities, and businesses increase the competence of energy sector and create employment for researchers. Researchers and universities are valuable resources in product development, and the innovations are efficiently brought to the markets. Energy innovations create jobs on other sectors as well; bioplants utilize the side streams from agriculture and forestry, and skilled workers are needed for the maintenance of energy production plants.
Figure: Forest-based bioeconomy actors in Central Finland. Source: Regional Council of Central Finland. (Click to enlarge)
Bioeconomy projects in Central Finland
Baltic Energy Action, a planning perspective (BEA-APP), Interreg BSR, total budget 2,7 M€. In this project, 11 partners from eight countries around the Baltic Sea cooperate to support the transition towards low-carbon energy systems. The project aims at increasing the capacity of regional and renewable energy planning actors by providing adjusted spatial planning instruments targeting renewable energy development; developing innovative stakeholder involvement methods and financing systems to increase social acceptance through local ownership; and applying the developed measures to pilot cases, studying the features of suitable renewable energy production sites and, thereby, setting the scene for concrete projects. Case study in Central Finland: geoenergy potential of Äänenniemi (Äänekoski). Project is running between 1.3.2016 – 28.2. 2019.
Rural RDI milieus in transition towards smart Bioeconomy Clusters and Innovation Ecosystems (RDI2Club). Interreg BSR, total budget 2.6 M€. In this project 12 partners from five countries around the Baltic Sea search new tools to support smart, sustainable and inclusive growth of the bioeconomy in rural areas of the Baltic Sea region. The core of the project is to support new business development in rural areas and create bio-business hubs to improve innovation management. Other regional partners in this project, Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, JAMK, (lead partner) and business partner Saarijärvi city’s development company together with Regional Council of Central Finland create a triple-helix cooperation in this project. Project is running between 1.10.2017 – 30.9.2020
CIRCWASTE - towards circular economy in Finland, Life IP, budget 19 M€, Regional council’s contribution 800 000€. This 7-year project brings together 20 national project partners. CIRCWASTE promotes efficient use of material flows, waste prevention and new waste and resource management concepts. Central Finland’s role is on 1) regional coordination; to develop Circular economy roadmap for the region and 2) on promoting the smart utilization of waste streams, with a focus on source separation and biogas production and consumption. Project partners include City of Jyväskylä and Central Finland Central Hospital, creating a strong partnership in the region.
Bioeconomy in Ostrobothnia
In Ostrobothnia, bioeconomy stands for decentralised energy production and advanced innovative energy self-sufficiency. Ostrobothnia is also a hub of agricultural primary production. One of the country’s first waste management companies, Stormossen, is located in Vaasa. Stormossen Biogas Plant produces biogas by decomposing the region’s organic waste and sludge received from a wastewater purification plant. The biogas is refined for transport use. In 2013, Stormossen recycled 96% of the municipal waste.
Another notable example from the region is the Westenergy incineration plant, which burns the region’s waste and turns it into energy; the steam produced by the plant is utilized for electricity production and district heating. Biomass is turned into energy also in Vaasa by Vaskiluodon Voima, which has built a progressive biomass gasification plant substituting domestic biofuels for coal.
Jakobstad is a global forerunner in bioenergy production. Alholmens Kraft, founded in 2005, is still one of the largest biomass power plants in the world producing district heating, electricity, and process steam for industry and consumers. The plant can run on almost all solid biofuels; its main energy sources are forest fuel, peat, pulpwood and saw logs. UPM Pietarsaari pulp mill, founded in 2004, produces the energy it requires by burning its own pulp residue, and is one of the most modern pulp mills in the world. Another biogas plant in Jakobstad, the Jepua plant, uses the organic waste from the region’s agriculture and industry as its raw material, turning them into energy, fertilisers and fuel for transport.
Coastline, Life and Business on the Finnish West Coast 2016–2017. Ostrobothnia Chamber of Commerce.