Finland is a northern European country with vast forest resources and sustainable wood production that supports industrial output, energy supply, economic growth and social well-being. This report describes Finland’s approach to sustainable solid biomass supply, the country’s application of forest wood resources for production of heat and power, and three specific cases where Finnish forest resources have been used in an innovative fashion.
The study – prepared by the country’s Technical Research Centre, VTT, in co-operation with the
International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) – provides insights for other countries intent on
developing forest bioenergy.The annual growth of Finnish forests has nearly doubled since the 1950s, and so has the amount of wood that can be sustainably extracted from these forests. Less than half of all wood extracted
is used for heat and power, while more than half is converted to products. Together, the unextracted
forest growth and durable products, which continue to store carbon for years or decades, are equivalent to over half the roundwood harvest.
Typically, wood energy resources are used in highly efficient district heating (DH) systems and combined heat and power (CHP) plants. Most of these rely on direct combustion, but the most modern CHP plants use fluidised bed boiler or circulating fluidised bed technology to gasify a wider range of low-quality forest residues,
reducing operating costs. Gasification also allows forest residues to displace coal in coal-fired CHP
plants, which cannot use residues directly.
Three case studies, located as shown in Figure 1, provide useful insights for policy makers on the
value of increased scale and flexibility in energy conversion when planning and implementing
bioenergy strategies. One case, in southern Finland, illustrates biomass use in a municipality to which biomass is transported from forests.
Cases in central and eastern Finland illustrate the integration of biomass supply with local forest industries. The advanced CHP plants highlighted here can use a wide range biomass from forests.
This means greater flexibility in timing and sourcing feedstock collection, and hence lower costs.