Wood-based energy production in Finland
Increase of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases cause climate change. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels in energy production and traffic. By making the use of energy more efficient and reducing the use of fossil fuels climate change can be prevented. As part of the EU’s efforts to increase the share of energy from renewable sources Finland has a national target to obtain 38% of its energy from such sources by 2020. The most important renewable energy source in Finland is wood, ahead of hydropower and wind power.
Energy from logging residues and forest industry by-products
In recent years energy obtained directly or indirectly from wood has accounted for around 20% of Finland’s total energy consumption. Much of this energy (about 70 TWh/year) is derived from the by-products of the forest industry, including bark, sawdust and black liquor derived from the pulp-making process. About 40 per cent of the raw material wood brought into pulp and paper mills ends up being used to produce energy at some phase of the production process.
The branches, crowns and stumps of harvested trees cannot be used by industry to produce timber goods or pulp and paper. But they can be chipped to make wood-chip fuels that can then be used to generate carbon-neutral bioenergy. The use of wood-chips to create energy in Finland has eightfolded since 2000. Approximately 7.5 million cubic metres of wood-chips were used to generate bioenergy in Finland in 2011. Most of this volume (6.8 million m3) was used in heating and power plants, but wood-chips are also used to heat many farms and other homes.
Finland’s new national climate and energy strategy envisages that the use of wood-chips should more than double to around 13.5 million cubic metres annually by 2020, corresponding to 25-27 TWh of energy. The strategy also calls for a steep increase in the use of wood pellets, and there are good prospects for the manufacture of wood-based liquid biofuels, which could be used instead of oil-based fuels for heating and transportation.