Our priority is maintaining a safe, healthy and diverse environment
A basic requirement for persistent, long-term energy production is maintaining a safe, healthy and diverse environment. Pohjolan Voima’s work to mitigate any environmental impact from the operations is guided by the Group’s environmental and energy efficiency policy. We recognise and determine the environmental impact and risks resulting from our operations, natural values related to our operations and any opportunities to make our use of energy more efficient.
When preparing environmental impact assessments, we take into account the entire lifecycle of the power plant from project planning to decommissioning. We are committed to improving energy efficiency throughout our energy production modes and at all of our facilities.
Environmental management systems certified in accordance with ISO 14001 are in use in the majority of Pohjolan Voima’s production companies, which helps to ensure the achievement of environmental objectives and continuous improvement of operations. In addition, all of our production companies use the energy efficiency system ETJ+ or the energy management system ISO 50001. Some of these systems are certified. Furthermore, the environmental management system of TVO (a joint venture of Pohjolan Voima) is EMAS registered. Some of the energy efficiency systems of our production companies were recertified in 2018.
We aim at more than 95% carbon neutrality in electricity production
Electricity production forms in Pohjolan Voima’s portfolio that are considered to be carbon-neutral are hydropower, nuclear power and electricity generated with carbon-neutral wood fuels in thermal power plants. In 2018, we increased our carbon neutrality target in the production of electricity to 95% by 2020, as we had exceeded our previous goal of 90%.
The share of our carbon neutral electricity production decreased to 87% in 2018, however, due to the lower hydropower production volume and increased use of fossil fuels. The volume of electricity produced with coal increased from the previous year. Due to the extremely rainy summer and autumn of 2017, wood-based fuels were wet and transport was difficult in the wet terrain. Hence, our combined heat and power production plants used more peat as the mixed fuel to secure energy production during the winter.
The share of carbon-neutral electricity production capacity is on the increase, however. Capacity increases increased the share of nuclear power and hydropower among our carbon-neutral energy sources, and we ceased separate electricity production with coal. Furthermore, regular electricity production of the OL3 EPR plant unit in Olkiluoto is expected to start in 2020.
Carbon-neutral sources of Pohjolan Voima's electricity production in 2014 - 2018, per cent
Hydropower production has regional and local effects on water systems and fish stocks. In order to meet its obligation to sustain the fish stocks of the Kemijoki and Iijoki water systems and the sea area, our water company PVO-Vesivoima stocked around 2.5 million fry in 2018. Of these fry, 0.8 million were used to stock the Kemijoki sea and river area. This amounted to 17% of the total of 4.9 million fry stocked together with Kemijoki Oy.
Did you know? Challenges with transport of river lampreys past dams into rivers
No actual transport of river lampreys past dams took place in the Iijoki river, because infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN) was detected in fish of the salmon family in the sea area. An agreement was made with the local water area owners and the Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment that river lampreys would be transported to the old Raasakka riverbed and other waterways in the adjacent area instead. The catching of river lampreys was fairly successful, and a total of 50,000 river lampreys were transported.
In the Kemijoki river, the joint obligation of PVO-Vesivoima and Kemijoki Oy is 100,000 transported specimens. A total of 66,000 river lampreys were transported in the Kemijoki river in 2018. The exceptionally high water temperatures in the summer and early autumn slowed down the rise of river lampreys in all the rivers flowing into the Bay of Bothnia. The rise of the river lampreys took place later than normal.
The obligations are evened out between years; in good years, the number transported exceeds the obligation. Due to the continuing deficit in the Kemijoki river, PVO-Vesivoima Oy and Kemijoki Oy have increased the volume of river lamprey being caught at the Isohaara power plant. The results from new catching locations and methods have been encouraging, but the catching of river lampreys needs to be further developed. New solutions are currently being planned.
In 2018, inspections in compliance with the Dam Safety Act, to be held every five years, took place at the dams of the Haapakoski and Pahkakoski power plants and the dam of the Maunujärvi nature nutrition fish pond. A leak detected in the retaining earth dam of the Melo power plant in 2016 was repaired by grouting. The repairs should be completed by the end of 2019. The repair work has not affected the environment or power generation operations at the power plant.
We work with partners to restore migratory fish
In cooperation with the Iijoki region municipalities, PVO-Vesivoima participated in a water system vision project called Iijoen otva. The project was launched by the Oulu Regional Council in late 2015 and concluded at the end of 2018. The EU was a co-financier.
In 2018, the parties that funded the project conducted negotiations on a continuation project. The new project was named Iijoki-sopimus (“the Iijoki Pact”), and an agreement on it was signed on 8 January 2019. With the Iijoki Pact, the parties agreed on implementation of the Iijoki river vision and a related action plan for 2019–2023.
Migratory fish spearhead project proceeds in Iijoki river
Our water company participates in a migratory fish stock project in the Iijoki river. The project was started in 2017. The action plan of the three-year project includes the following:
- Fishway for Raasakka power plant
- Downward migration solutions for smolt (young salmon and trout)
- Fry transplanting programme
- Fish transfers
- Measures to be implemented in old riverbeds of Raasakka and Maalismaa
Coordinated by the Oulu Regional Council, participants of the project include the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, several municipalities in the region, the Iijoki water system fishing area and Metsähallitus. The project is part of the nature policy spearhead project of the Finnish Government.
First downward migration solution for smolt
Researchers of the Natural Resources Institute Finland completed their ground-breaking general plan on downward migration solutions for smolt in the Iijoki river in autumn 2018. It allows the guiding of young salmon and trout past power plants. The downward migration solution consists of a guiding fence in the upper basin and the actual downward migration route.
The first fence to guide smolt in Finland will be installed in early summer 2019 at our Haapakoski power plant as part of the Iijoki river migratory fish spearhead project. Researchers of the Natural Resources Institute Finland will be testing the fence for a period of two years.
In March 2017, PVO-Vesivoima and Metsähallitus filed a joint application with the Regional State Administrative Agency for Northern Finland for a water management permit to build planned fishways at Raasakka. Replies to statements and complaints regarding the application were submitted in August 2018.
The Regional State Administrative Agency did not make a decision in the matter before the end of 2018.
Old riverbed of the Iijoki river in Raasakka is developed through cooperation
We develop the old natural riverbed at Raasakka in the Iijoki river with local partners. Extending into 2021, the project aims to improve the flow conditions and water quality, as well as to improve the state of the fish stock and promote recreational use of the area.
In summer 2018, we increased water flow to the Uiskari fishway to boost the rising of fish. Promising results have been received. Furthermore, horsetail has been removed and bathing beaches have been restored as well as a new disc golf course, ski tracks and snowmobiling routes opened.
Joint development of regulation
We are developing regulation of the source lakes of the Iijoki river in cooperation with the municipality of Taivalkoski and the authorities. The year-round ecological flow that was already in use at the Kostonjoki river, at least two cubic metres per second, was confirmed with a cooperation agreement in 2018.
A similar cooperation agreement for the Irninjoki river was confirmed in 2017. As part of the cooperation agreement, we restored spawning beds suitable for grayling and trout at locations specified by the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in the autumn of 2017. The success of these measures will be monitored for two years.
We participate in restoration of migratory fish stocks in Kemijoki river
PVO-Vesivoima participates in a committee coordinated by the Regional Council of Lapland, the operation of which continued with a second term after the related agreement was updated at the end of 2017. The committee will focus on promoting the actions laid down in the action plan prepared during the first term and on updating the action plan.
Kalasydän fishway solution tested at Isohaara
Tests carried out at Isohaara in the summer of 2018 were a major milestone in the development of the Kalasydän (“Fish Heart”) fishway solution: the tests provided information on functionality of the system under challenging conditions. The results were promising. The tests are part of cooperation on migratory fish coordinated by the Regional Council of Lapland.
The floating Kalasydän is a hydraulic fishway where the fish are lured to the system with an attractive flow and guides, and then taken past the obstacle.
In March 2017, the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Lapland filed a change application with the Regional State Administrative Agency for Northern Finland concerning stocking and fish stock management obligations with regard to the Kemijoki river. In October 2017, the centre filed a similar application concerning the Iijoki river. In addition to entirely new requirements, this involves additions to current obligations. The Regional State Administrative Agency did not announce the applications during 2018.
Pohjolan Voima’s thermal power plants use wood-based fuels, peat, coal and recycled fuels as their primary fuels, and small amounts of natural gas and oil as auxiliary startup and backup fuels. The most significant environmental impact of thermal power production concerns the atmosphere. The power plants’ emissions into the air vary according to the fuels and the production volumes.
Carbon dioxide emissions from our thermal power production amounted to 1.6 million tonnes in 2018. Since 2014, the CO2 emissions have decreased, mainly due to the fact that less coal is used, except in the past year. More peat was also used, because wood-based fuels were wet after the very rainy summer and autumn of 2017 and transport was difficult in the wet terrain. In 2018, specific CO2 emissions were 94 g CO2/kWh.
Pohjolan Voima's specific carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production in 2014 - 2018
|Specific CO2-emissions [g CO2/kWh]||137.9||82.5||89.7||57.0||93.7|
|Electricity production [TWh]||14.6||13.2||12.8||11.4||12.0|
Other emissions into the air increased from the previous year due to the increased electricity and heat production volumes. Sulphur dioxide emissions amounted to 1.4 thousand tonnes, nitrogen oxide emissions to 2.6 thousand tonnes and particle emissions to 0.1 thousand tonnes.
Acidifying emissions from Pohjolan Voima's heat and electricity production in 2014 - 2018
|Sulphur dioxide emissions [1000 t]||2.2||1.7||1.5||1.0||1.4|
|Nitrogen oxide emissions [1000 t]||5.3||3.8||3.2||2.4||2.6|
|Electricity production [TWh]||14.6||13.2||12.8||11.4||12.0|
Particle emissions from Pohjolan Voima's heat and electricity production in 2014 - 2018
|Particle emissions [t]||257||190||110||84||99|
|Electricity production [TWh]||14.6||13.2||12.8||11.4||12.0|
The IE Directive establishes that BAT conclusions made on the basis of the Best Available Techniques reference documents will become binding. The BAT conclusions related to the reference document on best available techniques for large combustion plants (LCP, Large Combustion Plant) were published on 17 August 2017. Power plants whose main field of activity is energy production are allowed four years to adjust their operations to the conclusions. Environmental permit review applications for these power plants were prepared in 2018. The emission limits will be stricter for future environmental permits.
Utilisation of by-products at a good level
A total of 167 thousand tonnes of fly ash, bottom ash and gypsum were produced; fly ash and gypsum as by-products from flue gas cleaning in the context of the power plants’ combustion process. 86% of our by-products were reused in earth construction, in the construction industry or as forest fertilisers in 2018. Any fly ash that is not reused at once can be put into intermediate storage and reused at a later date. Hence, the utilisation rate can sometimes be more than a hundred per cent.
Our goal is to reuse the maximum share of the by-products of thermal power production as raw materials that can replace non-renewable natural resources, such as rock and stone.
Usage of by-products and reutilisation levels in 2014 - 2018
|By-products [1000 t]||276,210||184,977||182,939||127,819||166,647|
|Reutilisation level %||115.0%||155.1%||94.7%||125.3%||86.4%|
Operations of the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant, which is owned by TVO, a joint venture partially owned by Pohjolan Voima, complied with legislation, environmental permits, the environmental management system and the energy efficiency system.
The most major environmental impact from the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant is local warming of the sea area close to the nuclear power plant. During the reporting year, the temperature of cooling water remained within the limits specified in the environmental permit. The environmental load caused by the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant was minimal. Radioactive emissions into the air and water remained below the limits set by the authorities.
In 2018 one environmental incident occured in Olkiluoto. In the incident oil was leaked on the soil from a construction vehicle. As result, 5 m3 of contaminated soil material was cleaned in the incident area. In addition, an incident happened during the construction works of OL1 was detected. In total 250 tons of contaminated soil material was removed from the zone under supervision of a third-party operator.
Revised environmental and water permit decisions for the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant became legally valid in July 2018.