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    Finnish Utility Launches Liquefied Biogas Plant


Gasum's plant is the first of its kind in Finland.

by: William Powell

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Finnish Utility Launches Liquefied Biogas Plant

State utility Gasum has started operations at its expanded biogas plant in Turku. It is the first in Finland that produces liquefied biogas, it said November 12.

Gasum already had a biogas plant in Topinoja, and its expansion was one of the government's key projects. It will process about 130,000 metric tons (mt)/yr of biomass to produce around 60 GWh of liquefied biogas (LBG) a year, which corresponds to the annual fuel consumption of 125 heavy-duty vehicles or 5,000 cars. The plant will also produce around 4,000 mt of ammonia water for use as a recycled nutrient.

Gasum's vice-president, Biogas, Johan Gron said the company was one of the few in the Nordic countries able to provide industrial scale biogas production and distribution and it was developing its plants in order to take the circular economy even further. "Demand for recycled nutrients is also showing development in different industrial sectors. Our Turku plant is a superb example of the realisation of the circular economy,” he said.

He told NGW that the fuel has a range of markets: maritime, heavy goods vehicles,(HGV), light road vehicles for which compressed biogas is available, and industry. Industrial users can use LBG to supplement conventional LNG as they are the same molecules. Some of the gas is injected into the grid, the rest is liquefied and trucked to market or compressed for sale to light vehicles.

In the case of HGVs the fuel is sold at a premium to diesel but there are tax and other incentives that make it cheaper in the long run to switch from diesel. A new European directive next year will also make it more attractive to run vehicles on gas than on conventional diesel, he said. He declined to comment on the price mechanism for other sectors but the tax benefits and the sale of by-products make a direct comparison with hub gas difficult. Industrial users benefited from the lower carbon emissions.

He said that Gasum was not yet at the stage of extracting the carbon, but that depending on the feedstock, there was already very little left in the biogas, from a life-cycle point of view. Using manure for example leads to reductions of "over 100%."

Gasum this month bought a 40-GWh biogas plant in Vastergotland, Sweden. It has also applied for permits to expand its biogas plants in Kuopio, Oulu and Kouvola. The Lohja biogas plant and the Viinikkala biowaste transfer station under construction in Finland, and the Nymolla biogas plant in Sweden will be completed by the start of 2021. Gasum also plans to build a new industrial scale 120-GWh/yr biogas plant in Gotene, Sweden by the beginning of 2023.

Gasum processes around 800,000 mt/yr all told and produces a total of around 740,000 mt/yr of fertiliser products. Biogas can help cut CO2 by up to 90% compared with conventional diesel. Gasum now has 15 biogas plants in Finland and Sweden, making the company one of the largest producers of biogas in the Nordics. Gasum will make 4 TWh of biogas available in the Nordics by 2024 through its own production and partners, it said.