Increasing production of biogas in cooperation with agriculture is possible in Espoo
A recently completed assessment offers promising prospects for increasing biogas production in Espoo. The assessment surveyed the raw materials found in the Espoo region for biogas production and assessed the potential of a biogas plant. Since domestic organic waste fractions and biowaste are already utilised to a high degree by HSY and private partners, the assessment focused on the raw materials of agriculture.
Emissions from traffic account for more than 30% of the carbon dioxide emissions in Espoo. In addition to electrification, we want to promote other fossil-free power sources in order to reduce emissions. Introducing biogas in transport is one way of reducing the emissions from Espoo residents and, at the same time, promoting the local circular economy and energy self-sufficiency. Together with Envitecpolis Oy, we assessed whether the production of transport biogas could be increased in Espoo with a small-scale biogas plant.
The feed survey included in the assessment focused on the waste fractions that are not yet covered by biogas processing. For this reason, the surveying focused on the local farms. The main feeds that could be utilised in the biogas plant are straw and grass. In addition, a wish for local processing options for the treatment of horse manure emerged. In total, the potential volume of feed would correspond to approximately 7,500 MWH of energy.
Biogas production interests local farmers, profitability an important factor
“Biogas production interested the local farmers, but the survey also highlighted that the operations must be profitable and such that they support the operations of the farms,” says Toni Taavitsainen, Senior Advisor at Envitecpolis Oy, about the interview results.
The surveyed feed basis directed the investigation to dry digestion technology similar to the approach of Palopuron Biogaasu Oy, which was the operating model used in the technological review and profitability review of the assessment. The plant would produce biomethane i.e. transport fuel that would replace fossil fuels, and the resulting digestate residue could be utilised as fertiliser in fields. The calculations took into account 40% of the total amount of field biomasses, which would mean an annual feed volume of approximately 3,500 tonnes. A plant of this size would yield enough transport fuel to sustain the annual consumption by approximately 280 passenger cars or 14 lorries. The biomethane produced could replace approximately EUR 660,000 worth of fossil fuel use. The proceeds from biomethane would benefit the local economy.
When biogas replaces fossil fuels, emissions are reduced and economic benefit stays local
Biogas is domestic, renewable energy that can be refined into transport fuel, used as heating energy or converted into electricity. The assessment took into account the plant’s climate impacts when reviewing the changed processing methods of the grass, straw and manure used as feed and the emissions caused by transporting them. The assessment also included reviewing the emission reduction created when biogas replaces fossil fuels and the nitrogen and phosphorus from digestate replace artificial fertilisers.
“The emission reduction achieved by the plant corresponds to the average annual greenhouse gas emissions of about 155 Finns,” says Senja Arffman, Senior Advisor at Envitecpolis Oy. The most important emission reduction is achieved by replacing fossil fuels with biogas.
In addition to the cycle of biogas and nutrients, the production of biogas creates carbon dioxide, the utilisation of which is also a potential source of income. Various solutions for recovering carbon dioxide are being developed.
Assessment helps local operators continue with more detailed investment plans
The assessment shows that many factors still need to be examined in more depth. Investing involves uncertainties and solving, planning and anticipating them is key to ensuring profitable operations. These include things such as the local market for biomethane, the increasing financing costs caused by rising interest rates and the sustainability of gas production.
“Operations can be made profitable, but this requires careful planning and examining things from several perspectives. The local farmers’ interest in the production of biogas has been encouraging,” says Toni Taavitsainen.
The result webinar highlighted the fact that the local farmers have during this spring took the time to consider this endeavour and they have reviewed the results of the assessment. “We want to encourage the operators in the region to build a local agroecological symbiosis that can be used to promote the region’s energy self-sufficiency and the enhancement of the nutrient cycle and to create a path towards a carbon-neutral Espoo. Envitecpolis’ excellent assessment provides a good foundation for further work,” says Tiia Tuuri, Development Manager at the City of Espoo.
Read the final report (in Finnish):
A sustainable Espoo is built together with Espoo residents
Espoo strives to be carbon neutral by 2030. This target can be achieved together with our partners. As a pioneer, Espoo not only strives to reduce its carbon footprint but also to promote local operators’ sustainable business operations and solutions that increase Espoo’s handprint globally as well. Together with our partners, we develop solutions for cutting emissions and for increasing positive handprint effects in our world. “We hope that this assessment will also be useful in Uusimaa on a broader scale. We are happy to work together with our neighbouring municipalities,” says Tiia Tuuri. “Organisations in the industry also play an important role in the promotion of biogas.”
At the end of 2020, we signed the Europe-wide circular economy commitment Circular Cities Declaration whose ten objectives promote the implementation of the city’s circular economy. The circular economy is an effective means to achieve the carbon neutrality objective by reducing the use of virgin raw materials and emissions from the production of materials. The circular economy is of great importance for the sustainable use of natural resources and the maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity. The transition to the circular economy will also create new business and jobs in Espoo.
The assessment was conducted (11/2022–3/2023) as part of the project “Solution path to sustainable growth ecosystems” (RAKKE) which is managed by the City of Espoo and funded by the Uusimaa Sustainable Growth and Vitality Support (UKKE) funding.
Reetta Jänis, Development Manager, Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development, City of Espoo, tel. +358 (0)40 551 9484
Tiia Tuuri, Development Manager, Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development, City of Espoo, tel. +358 (0)40 636 9757
Toni Taavitsainen, Senior Advisor, Envitecpolis Oy, tel. +358 (0)443+358 3 5006
The agroecological symbiosis of Palopuro https://palopuronsymbioosi.fi/(external link)