Biochar could replace up to half of the coal currently by cogeneration plants in Finland according to a report sourced from Finland’s first biochar pellet factory is being planned in Ristiina, eastern Finland. The factory will cost an estimated EUR 30-40 million and will produce 200,000 tons of biochar pellets annually, which could be used to replace coal in heat and power cogeneration plants.

According to Mika Muinonen, Development Manager at the Miktech innovation and technology center in Mikkeli, the biochar pellets will first be tested in a smaller scale pilot plant that Etelä-Savon Energia and Miktech expect to start operating in early 2013. He is looking for energy companies and forest industry companies to join in the factory project.

Biochar pellets could be used in power plant currently using coal without making major investments and it could replace half of the coal used today. Coal-fired powered power stations are currently operating in six cities in Finland. Helsinki is already preparing to replace its coal power stations with renewable energy.

There are several ongoing research projects focusing on biochar in Finland. Participants in the torrefaction project at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland include Helsingin Energia and UPM as well as five other companies. Metso Power is also conducting research into torrefied pellets, as are North AB in Kouvola and the Department of Biological and Environmental Science at the University of Jyväskylä.

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