In Salo, long-term thinking is the name of the game. A couple of kilometers from one of the most important sites of Finnish industrial history, the previous Salo site of Nokia corporation, history of the waste management industry is in the making.
The Korvemäki waste management site is operated by the municipally-owned Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto Oy (LSJH). The recently commissioned waste incineration plant on the same site is owned by Lounavoima Oy, in turn owned by LSJH and Salon Kaukolämpö Oy, a district heating company. For over a year now, Q Power, LSJH and Lounavoima have been working together to create solutions for capturing emissions from waste management for utilization in fuel synthesis.
In 2020, an internationally unique pilot project was conducted on the site. Low-quality landfill gas was successfully refined into synthetic biomethane using Q Power reactor technology. The companies are currently planning to implement landfill gas methanation at full scale. The project is currently awaiting funding decisions from EU and national authorities. In the next phase, the plan is to capture carbon dioxide from flue gases at the incineration plant, to also be turned into a carbon-neutral fuel. Development initiatives are being advanced decisively on many fronts: in other words, in the manner demanded by climate change mitigation.
The Korvenmäki site has been an inspiring environment for Q Power. In this interview, we speak with LSJH CEO Jukka Heikkilä and Lounavoima CEO Petri Onikki, asking them where the engaged approach of their companies stems from, and how they see the emissions-reduction future of waste management.
Q Power: what kind of opportunities do you see in the waste management sector, relating to emissions reductions? What do you believe will be the role of the sector in the transition to a carbon-neutral circular economy?
Jukka Heikkilä: The waste management industry has already taken great leaps in reducing emissions. One of the most impactful steps was when we started collecting landfill gases and stopped landfilling organic waste.
Now the goals is to turn remaining emissions into products, such as landfill gas into traffic fuels. It would really be great if we could utilize the emissions from energy production from municipal waste in fuel production and play a key role in the hydrogen economy.
Even though waste management is the last link in the material chain, what comes to a carbon-neutral circular economy, we can be frontrunners. In addition to carbon-neutral waste treatment solutions, we need to organize waste transportation as efficiently as possible.
QP: What kind of a profile does LSJH want to build inside the industry? How are the development activities in Korvenmäki tied to the LSJH strategy?
JH: LSJH wants to be an enabler and a pioneer. We are looking to advance resource efficiency and the circular economy to mitigate climate change. We are working hard to increase reusage and quality recycling of materials. Our goal is to minimize our carbon footprint and maximize our handprint.
Our development projects in Korvenmäki are cornerstones of LSJH strategy. The waste-to-energy plant enables us to provide quality service to the community and cooperate with innovative local industry.
QP: How has your experience cooperating with Q Power been like, and what do you expect from future cooperation?
JH: Working together with Q Power on interesting projects has been exceptionally smooth and effortless. We have already reached great results and the common journey towards a cleaner future continues.
Q Power: Lounavoima is open-mindedly engaging in technology trials to reduce emissions. What is the driving force for Lounavoima to further these projects?
Petri Onikki: Lounavoima is committed to being at the forefront of development in the circular economy. Waste-to-energy is and important link in the waste management chain, and without it we would be unable to handle waste properly and according to current standards. Waste-to-energy must also be developed, to align with challenges of the future. Of course our motivation also stems from the commitment of our owners to develop our activities: district heating and waste management. Our staff is also forward-looking and wants to work for a better future.
QP: How do you see the future of CCU (carbon capture and utilization) in the context of power plants?
PO: Developing carbon capture technologies is of primary concern when striving towards carbon-neutrality. Utilizing captured carbon is a possibility to create a carbon sink, representing a major possibility for power plants.
QP: What does Lounavoima expect from future cooperatoin with Q Power?
PO: Lounavoima is looking forward to implementing working CCU solutions together. Q Power has been an active and good partner for us, with an innovative and working solution. I am looking forward to taking our project to execution, and to finding solutions that are sustainable both ecologically and economically.