The Riikinvoima eco power plant was completed in Leppävirta according to plan and almost on schedule in 2017. The plant, which produces electricity and district heat from municipal waste, is the only one of its kind in Eastern Finland. Andritz, the plant supplier for the EPC execution, chose Sweco as the structural engineering provider.
In 2016, Finland instituted a Waste Act amendment that prohibited the landfill deposition of municipal waste. “Finnish municipalities were forced to find alternative ways to process waste,” says Managing Director Ville Holopainen of the Riikinvoima plant. At present, Finland has about 10 waste combustion plants, among which Riikinvoima is the only one in Eastern Finland. “We are currently processing the mixed waste generated by 58 municipalities.”
Andritz, the process and equipment supplier for the Riikinvoima eco power plant, involved Sweco’s structural engineers very early on, when the site was still covered by trees.
“Structural engineers are one of the most important partners in power plant projects,” says Project Manager Janne Puttonen of Andritz. According to him, an experienced partner can be the key for the successful completion of an EPC execution. “The engineers proactively initiated discussions with other plant designers and offered solutions to push the project forward.”
The long preliminary design phase of the Riikinvoima plant began in 2012. “We worked closely with the client to ensure that all solutions were cost-efficient and appropriate down to the last detail,” says Department Manager for Structural Engineering Jouni Hollo. Within the scope of the project, Sweco’s responsibilities included structural engineering, geotechnical engineering and land use planning.
The most significant challenges were change management and scheduling. Despite the challenges, the good team spirit and solid commitment to the project ensured that all parties involved focused on solutions instead of problems. “The trust and openness demonstrated in the project collaboration was truly exemplary!” Hollo says.
Finland’s most efficient eco power plant promotes circular economy
The construction of the eco power plant progressed on schedule, and the commercial production began as planned in 2017. At the moment, the Riikinvoima plant burns about 140,000 tonnes of mixed waste a year. “At a regional level, our company provides a substantial boost to circular economy,” Holopainen explains. The district heat produced covers about 80% of the demand within the town of Varkaus, and the electricity supplied is enough to heat roughly 4,300 detached houses.
Riikinvoima’s vision is to become Finland’s most efficient eco power plant to promote circular economy. The mixed waste is burned at a high yield, and the flue gases are cleaned very efficiently. “Furthermore, the waste reception area has been covered with a protective membrane to keep effluents out of the environment,” Hollo says.
However, the most important benefit to nature is that waste combustion reduces the need for fossil fuels. “The Riikinvoima plant helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” Holopainen says.
Andritz and Sweco specialists in industrial and steel structure engineering have continued to collaborate closely by designing power plants of varying sizes in Finland and abroad. “We engage in continuous cooperation on a global scale,” Puttonen says in summary.