Metso reveals world's largest biomass gasifier, financial results

By Erin Voegele | March 12, 2013

On March 11, Metso Corp. announced that Vaskiluodon Voima Oy has inaugurated the world’s largest biomass gasification plant in Vaasa, Finland. According to Metso, the plant was constructed as part of an existing coal-fired power plant. Biobased syngas produced by the new gasifier system will be combusted along with coal in the existing coal boiler. Nearly half the coal used at the plant can now be replaced by gasified biomass.

Metso’s delivery for the project included fuel handling, a large-scale dryer and circulating fluidized bed gasifier, modification work on the existing coal boiler and a Metso DNA automation system.  The plant started up near the beginning of 2013.

“The operational experiences so far indicate that the 140 MW bio-gasification plant functions as planned, and the produced gas burns cleanly in the coal boiler and reduces emissions,” said Mauri Blomberg, managing director of Vaskiluodon Voima.

“I’m sure that Vaskiluoto’s investment in increasing the use of renewable energy will draw major international attention. Coal powered plants can be made greener, and Vaskiluoto’s plant is leading the way,” said Jyrki Holmala, president of Metso’s Power business line. “Coal boilers still account for the majority of power production in the world. Bio-gasification technology of this scale offers a new, cost-effective option for increasing the share of biomass and, consequently, for significantly decreasing the use of and emissions from coal.”

Earlier in the month, Metso released its annual report and corporate governance statement for 2012. According to the company’s annual report, net sales and profit grew in 2012. Net sales in its services business grew by 11 percent to approximately EUR 3.2 billion ($4.16 billion), accounting for 44 percent of net sales. Overall net sales grew by 13 percent to EUR 7.504 billion.

In the report, Metso noted that one goal in its research and product development business is to expand the use of biomaterials in energy production. “The importance of biomass will be highlighted as society strives to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Metso has a long track record in…biomass combustion with fluidized bed technology,” said the company in the report. “Metso has taken significant developmental steps in commercializing biotechnologies in recent years. We have already supplied several gasification plants that can be used to replace the use of fossil fuels in existing plants.

The report also specifies that the fastest growing industry segment in China at the moment is bioenergy. “We are not yet the market leaders in biomass-based power plants, so this market offers us a lot of growth potential,” said Metso. There is also demand for biomass power solutions in other parts of Asia as well as in Europe and other regions of the world. Overall, Metso’s Pulp, Paper and Power segment realized EUR 3.014 billion in net sales in 2012. Services net sales in the segment were reported to be $1.102 billion.