Development of biogas production and waste recycling in Puolanka, in Kainuu

News 2021-08-02 at 11:04

Puolanka was the first municipality in Kainuu to join the network of Hinku municipalities in December 2020. Puolanka is also included in the Energy Efficiency Agreement 2017–2025. In the background is the determined goal of a small municipality to build sustainable energy production and waste management in Kainuu.

“In the summer, we will start the construction of Kainuu's first biogas plant as part of a larger Biocentre project”, says Marko Väyrynen, Technical Director of the municipality of Puolanka. The plant is expected to use around 700 tonnes of municipal waste to produce district heating and replace the use of fossil fuels. The biogas plant will be built next to the waste water treatment plant and connected to the district heating plant by a pipeline. “If everything goes as planned, the new facility will be commissioned in 2022.”

Biowaste transport journeys halved

According to Väyrynen, the biogas development project aims to support the vitality and circular economy of the whole Kainuu area. Currently, biowaste from households and companies is transported from Kainuu to mainly Oulu, more than 200 kilometres away. In the future, the biogas plant in Puolanka will be able to process a large part of the municipal waste from other small municipalities in Kainuu up to 2,000 tonnes.

“This means, for example, that municipal waste produced in Kuhmo, Sotkamo and Hyrynsalmi is already being treated halfway through the journey in Puolanka”, Väyrynen says. “At the same time, it will not be necessary to build a municipal waste treatment plant in every small municipality in the future.”

Farm manure to practical use

Although Puolanka is billed as Finland's most pessimistic town but on environmental issues cooperation with the region's businesses and farm entrepreneurs is open-minded. In due course, the municipality's dairy farms will be integrated into local and renewable district heat production. There's a lot of potential.

“Kainuu is a strong milk production area, and in the Puolanka area the farms produce up to twice as much milk as the regional average,” Väyrynen says. There are a lot of small and large barns in the municipality, and it is likely that the utilisation of cow manure will be successful in the new biogas plant.

Reducing transport saves the environment

Puolanka aims to reduce the municipality’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2030. In addition to biogas, the Biocenter project develops wood burning. A wood-drying field of nearly five hectares is being built in connection with the heating plant so that wood does not have to be temporarily stored around the countryside. “As trees are transported and dumped in one place near the heating plant, it becomes easier to manage the entire heat production process", Väyrynen says.

Shorter waste transport journeys and less wood truck traffic will bring significant economic and environmental savings. “The biogas plant and the wood-drying field together have a very great economic and employment significance for Puolanka.”

The third way to save the environment and costs is to update street lighting in the urban area. “We have renewed street lighting to a modern LED technology one street at a time, reducing energy consumption by half in just 3–4 years”, Väyrynen says. The saving is hundreds of megawatt-hours. “At the same time, the lifespan of the lamps will be extended and the environmental load will decrease.”

Responsibility also extends beyond the infrastructure in Puolanka. One of the municipality's environmental projects concerns the Kiiminkijoki river basin, which flows into the Bothnian Sea and whose main river Kiiminjoki originates in Lake Kivarinjärvi, in Puolanka. The river is protected by the Act on the Protection of Rapids and the Natura 2000 programme. “We are planning a dredging project for the Törisevänpuro discharge basin, and we will also be mowing the shorewaters of Lake Kivarinjärvi during the coming summers. It is a massive environmental act for the entire water system.”

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