Artificial intelligence leads the way towards fossil-free energy production

Vantaa Energy, the IT service company CGI, and Sumitomo SHI FW are developing a completely new kind of solution in Finland for reducing the environmental impacts of energy production. It was possible to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of the Martinlaakso power plant by more than 3,000 tonnes per year already in the first phase of the project by utilising data, analytics and artificial intelligence.

Vantaa Energy has a rapid schedule to end the use of fossil fuels already in 2026. Fossil-free energy production is enabled by the utilisation of excess energy produced in waste processing, seasonal storage of heat, and the use of geothermal ground-source heat and solar energy. Enhancing the efficiency of bioenergy production has also been introduced by utilising artificial intelligence (AI).

In the pilot project implemented at the Martinlaakso power plant in spring 2020, a cloud-based analytics service for optimising the operation of the power plant was developed by utilising data from different power plants. In addition, the operators of the Martinlaakso biopower plant were also interviewed and their everyday lives were observed in the project in order to identify operating processes and to develop the operating experience.

“ Improving energy efficiency, reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, cutting carbon-dioxide emissions, and saving in operating costs were our initial joint targets. What is special about the project is that this case was not so much to do with the development of traditional power plant technology. We utilised, above all, data with the aid of analytics and artificial intelligence,” sums up Jukka Toivonen, CEO of Vantaa Energy.   

“ Service design helped us find a solution model where the boiler’s capability was made visible with real-time data analytics to the operators responsible for its operation. This improved visibility enables more optimal use of the boiler than before. Vantaa Energy was able to increase the use of biofuels and reduce the use of fossil fuels in energy production. As a result, we have smaller carbon dioxide emissions and lower operating costs,” explains Jani Petäkoski who is in charge of industrial IoT solutions and analytics at CGI.

According to Vantaa Energy, CGI and Sumimoto SHI FW, the project is a significant development step, which is followed by further cooperation.

“ This project is an excellent example of the value of multisector cooperation and how a completely new kind of service, which can be used for improving the efficiency of business operations and, at the same time, mitigating climate load, can be deployed in just 14 weeks. The resulting solution processes and visualises data in a way that is still not possible with traditional control systems,” emphasises Ilkka Koskinen who is responsible for digital services at Sumitomo SHI FW.

In the project, Sumitomo SHI FW was responsible for developing the algorithm needed in the optimisation work and for the expert work in CGI service design, as well as for implementing cloud solutions in the Microsoft Azure environment with a high level of data protection and data security.

The pilot environment of the project was Vantaa Energy’s Martinlaakso biopower plant that produces electricity and heat with biofuels. The purpose of this project was to maximise the use of a biomass boiler by utilising data, analytics and artificial intelligence and that way to substantially reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Further information

Jukka Toivonen
CEO, Vantaa Energy Ltd
+358 50 453 6729
jukka.toivonen@vantaanenergia.fi

Jani Petäkoski
Director, Industrial IoT Solutions, CGI Finland
+358 40 172 1636
jani.petakoski@cgi.com

Ilkka Koskinen
Director, Digital Services, Sumitomo SHI FW
+358 40 845 8443
ilkka.koskinen@shi-g.com