Fri, 16/01/2015 - 10:27
Energy for Life, Living and Entrepreneurship
Turku Energia aims to be recognised as one of the industry’s leading heat and electricity producers in Finland as it pushes towards its 2020 green energy goal
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Dave Alexander
Turku Energia is already the leading power supplier in southwest Finland but refuses to rest on its laurels as it looks to leverage its competitive prices, competent personnel, service reliability, profitability and environmental friendliness to increase the usage of green energy in the region by 50 percent over the next five years.
As one of the oldest energy companies in the country, Turku Energia has honed its core businesses over more than a century in areas of procurement, distribution and sales of electricity and heat, as well as the development, construction and maintenance of power plants and distribution networks.
It is this influence that the company has on the wider industry and communities in Finland which Turku has become renowned for, and the business’s Vice President of Heat, Jari Kuivanen is optimistic about capitalising on this reputation moving forward.
“We are known as a reliable and customer-oriented power company that sells energy mainly generated from renewable energy sources,” he explains. “The company started in 1898 and some other company milestones include 1976 when district heating started in the Turku area, and 2012 when local energy solutions for the Turk region started.”
These developments proved to be the platform for an extremely successful 2013 which saw the company employ 300 people within its workforce, and enjoy investments in the region of €13 million; culminating in turnover figures of €269 million and operating profits of €26.8 million.
Progress in 2014 proved to be similarly proactive from Turku Energia, as it once again involved itself in some of the most significant energy projects in the region, partnering with some of the industry’s leading players in the process.
Kuivanen says: “The biggest investment decision was taken in the spring of 2014 when Turku Energia decided to join a new multi-fuel plant - NA4 CHP project - construction in the city of Naantali.
“Turun Seudun Energiatuotanto Oy (TSE Ltd) is responsible for the power plant design and construction, and the new power plant will start commercial operations in December 2017.”
Turku Energia will use all of the new plant’s district heating capacity once it is fully functional, with NA4 CHP project producing heat and electricity at the same time.
Towards the end of the 2014, the company also made the decision to acquire a 40MW peak power plant which uses wood pellets as a fuel source, once again emphasising Turku’s flexibility in being able to quickly capitalise on opportunities, as well as its adherence to present and future trends.
Arguably the most significant project being undertaken by Turku at present revolves around a more general operation occurring in the city.
“The city of Turku is planning a new neighbourhood in Skanssi,” Kuivanen explains. “Skanssi is 85 hectares in area and is characterised by a varied terrain consisting of a gravel ridge, forested hills and open fields. The area has nature and sports trails, existing building stock and a well-designed, large shopping centre.
“The main themes for the area are eco-friendliness, diversity and a pleasant and comfortable neighbourhood. To achieve a dense, ecological and urban-like structure and make a functioning public transport system possible, it is necessary to raise the population from 2,500 inhabitants to 8,000 inhabitants.”
In order to achieve the project’s primary goals, key challenges such as transport will have to be taken into account, but Turku Energia is playing its part in regards to energy and technical solutions.
“Traditionally, electricity and heat are produced in large plants and transferred to consumers,” Kuivanen continues. “In the future, property and energy consumers will also produce and store electricity and heat as energy production becomes wider and more diverse due to new technical solutions.
“Turku Energy believes the change will be based on the needs of consumers when buildings take into use the new technologies and energy solutions available for them. Skanssi will not have a purpose-built new system, but in the new area and the new buildings there will be the opportunity to put into use existing modern technologies.”
Collaboration and competition
High levels of industry collaboration is becoming the norm for the good of the industry moving forward, with regional cooperation incorporating the neighbouring municipalities of Raisio, Kaarina and Naantali, as well as Finnish energy heavyweights, Fortum Ltd and TSE.
Partnerships are key in promoting long-term and innovative energy business development; a drive which Turku Energia has always been at the forefront of in offering new solutions to its customers, putting the company in a prime position to capitalise on the latest industry and regional trends.
“Electricity is produced in Finland in a versatile way with various different energy sources and production methods,” Kuivanen explains. “The most important energy sources for electricity generation are nuclear power, hydropower, coal, natural gas, wood fuels and peat. The share of wind power is small, but growing.
“In Finland, there are approximately 120 companies producing electricity and about 400 power plants, more than half of which are hydroelectric power plants. Finland’s electricity generation is fairly distributed compared with many other European countries, but our diverse and distributed structure of electricity generation increases the security of electricity supply.”
Running parallel to the industry collaboration occurring in the Turku region at present is also a healthy level of competition which is becoming tougher all the time, with the price of electricity, especially, making it impossible for companies to invest in its production without significant financial support given by the government.
“New heating solutions are coming onto the market all the time, and competition will be hard in future. We must be able to respond to the competition by developing our own products,” Kuivanen emphasises.
In line with both electricity and heating trends, Turku Energia is currently monitoring the development of combined heat and power generation (CHP), from which almost one-third of electricity is now produced. This allows for the content of the fuel to be utilised almost to its full potential, with 90 percent of it being converted into either power source.
Continuing in this vein, the company has set a goal for 2020 to produce more than 50 percent of electricity and heat production via renewable and carbon dioxide-free production methods, subsequently making it one of Finland’s best energy companies.
Working alongside groups such as TSE will further enable this development of large scale production to enable investments into new low-emission production solutions.
“New investments will support our policy, meaning we remain a provider of customer-oriented service solutions and a producer of environmentally friendly energy,” Kuivanen concludes.