In future, biowaste from residents in Rovaniemi, Ranua and Pello will be turned into renewable Finnish biogas and recycled nutrients at Gasum’s biogas plant in Oulu. A contract between energy company Gasum and municipal waste management company Napapiirin Residuum Oy marks a new step in the regional circular economy in Northern Finland. In future, residents’ biowaste will be recycled into a fuel for the tanks of gas vehicles.
"Municipalities and municipal waste management companies have an important role in promoting the production of Finnish biogas and transport emission reductions. At the same time, biogas production also enables municipalities to efficiently recycle biowaste,” says Ari Suomilammi, Director, Circular Economy Finland, Gasum.
Municipal biowaste from Rovaniemi, Ranua and Pello was earlier composted at a local landfill. Biogas production provides greater environmental benefits than composting since it also makes use of the energy released in the natural anaerobic digestion process. In the production process, the energy is upgraded into a fuel suitable for the tanks of gas vehicles. The residual solids or digestate remaining from the digestion process are recycled as fertilizers for local fields, for example.
"Efficient biowaste recycling and promotion of a circular economy are important themes for us to promote, and ones which biogas production can provide solutions to,” says Juha Torvinen, CEO at Napapiiriin Residuum.
Modern biogas plant enables efficient recycling of biowaste
Modern biogas plants provide an opportunity to efficiently recycle biodegradable waste. Using a waste pre-processing system, the Oulu plant can separate biowaste from the packaging. Biogas production can also utilize liquid biowaste.
The switch to biogas has resulted in Napapiirin Residuum revising its biowaste sorting instructions to residents. Biowaste can be packed in fruit or bread bags already found in the home. In addition, old yoghurt cartons can also be recycled with biowaste.
Fill up with biogas for cleaner transport
Gasum has invested heavily in recent years in developing biogas plants and in growing biogas production. Modernization of the biogas upgrading system completed at the Oulu biogas plant in spring 2020 means the plant can produce around 35 gigawatt hours of biogas. This corresponds to the annual consumption of around 3,500 gas vehicles. Use of biogas in transport can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90% compared with using fossil fuels.
Making low-emission solutions available for transport purposes is a key aspect in biogas production. The northernmost gas filling stations in Finland are currently in Oulu. Regional biogas production and development of the road fuel gas market will enable us to expand the filling station network further north.