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CEO’s review

The most competitive carbon-neutral heating with our hybrid system

Last year, we succeeded in delivering the best financial result in our company’s 113-year history, despite the fact that the rapid pace of changes in our operating environment continued. Our customers’ growing needs related to emission-free energy and energy efficiency, for example, present us with many challenges – but also offer many opportunities. The situation is the same in terms of the evolution of technology, the regulatory environment and the energy markets.

Reducing emissions will require us to invest around one billion euros in the coming years. As we build a new energy system, we must ensure security of supply and that we are the most competitive choice for our customers.

We are committed to ensuring that energy and limited resources are circulated as smartly as possible – so that customers and society benefit the most. This means, for example, utilizing non-recyclable waste and waste heat, as well as improving energy storage and energy efficiency at plants and in our customers’ buildings.

Last year, we asked our stakeholders what they think is most important aspect in Vantaa Energy’s sustainability. They said it was ensuring security of energy supply in all situations. This strongly guides our operations.

We updated our strategy last year to reflect the changed landscape in which we operate. Our goal to be carbon negative in local energy production by 2030 remained the same, but we did refine the ways in which we will achieve it.

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Fossil fuels phased out by 2026

We have rapidly reduced our use of fossil fuels. Emissions from fossil fuels covered by the Emissions Trading Scheme have decreased by around 80% in just over a decade. Apart from the coldest periods of winter, we no longer need fossil fuels for our heat production. We were already phasing out coal in 2020, but the energy crisis caused by Russia’s war of aggression meant that the coal-fired power plant was left for the time being for security of supply use. Indeed, in two winter seasons now, the coal-fired power plant has already proved its usefulness in ensuring sufficient electricity production capacity in Finland. For the time being, we still need natural gas for heat production in regional heating plants on the coldest winter days.

The first milestone is to phase out the energy use of fossil fuels by 2026. This will require the adoption of electric heat production and biochar and the widespread use of waste heat.

The electric boiler scheduled for completion in 2025 in Martinlaakso will use emission-free electricity to produce heat for both the district heating network and the thermal battery adjacent to the boiler. The geothermal plant commissioned last year is also the first in Finland to produce heat for the district heating network.

We will be able to store energy on an unprecedented scale in the seasonal thermal energy storage facility we are planning to build in Kuusikonmäki, in Vantaa. The energy will be collected during the summer from waste-to-energy and waste-heat sources for use during colder seasons.

Towards sustainable energy recovery from waste

Energy recovery from waste is different from other forms of energy production. Waste-to-energy is an efficient and resource-smart way to get rid of nonrecyclable waste and extract the final benefit from it – thermal energy. Together with our partners, we are looking for ways to increase recycling rates and develop a circular economy. However, not all waste can be recycled, and non-recyclable waste will continue to be generated. The only – and much worse – alternative to energy recovery is landfilling.

The energy recovery of waste also produces greenhouse gas emissions. The only way to get rid of them is to recover them. Once recovered, they can either be used as raw materials for new products or stored in a long-term geological repository.

We are currently exploring the most feasible option for us. However, regulation on the subject is still very much incomplete and does not take into account the special nature of energy recovery from waste. This is why, for example, Vantaa Energy is aiming for carbon negativity by 2030 with a hybrid system where the world’s largest thermal energy storage, waste heat and electric boilers produce the most competitive heating in Vantaa. Our planned power-to-gas plant project was suspended.

Eventually, combustion-based energy production will come to an end. In addition to fossil fuels, we also have plans to phase out, e.g., biomass combustion in Martinlaakso in the next decade.

We are creating a hybrid heating system in Vantaa. With a hybrid system, we can offer the most competitive way to heat buildings in a carbon-neutral way. Our large district heating network, future thermal storage and energy recovery of non-recyclable waste with high efficiency make this hybrid system possible. With the added benefit of emissions recovery, we are creating a sustainable endpoint for non- recyclable waste.