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Helen fires up Finland's largest wood pellet boiler

The first wood pellets were ignited this week at the Finnish energy utility Helen’s new pellet-fired heating plant in the Salmisaari district of Helsinki, Finland. The 100 MW fuel capacity plant, the largest of its kind in Finland, will soon generate renewable district heat to customers in Helsinki and represents a significant step to increasing renewable energy in Helen’s energy production portfolio.

Moment of truth for project manager Aleksi Nurmi as the first fire for Helen’s 100 MW Salmisaari wood pellet heat plant takes place marking the beginning of the commissioning phase (photo courtesy Sonja Meskanen / Helen).

A pellet-fired flame is now burning in Finland’s largest pellet boiler in Salmisaari in Helsinki. The first fire was ignited successfully on Tuesday,” said Heikki Hapuli, Helen’s director responsible for production and distribution.

Over the next few months, the pellet-fired heating plant will be in trial use, testing various output levels, boiler start-up, cleanliness of pellet combustion, and the safe operation of the plant. Before burning, pellets are ground into dust, which is transported by blowers into the boiler for burning.

Round-the-clock heat production with pellets will start in November. Even during the trial run, the plant will produce substantial amounts of renewable district heat for Helsinki residents.

Over the course of the winter, the plant will be operated with a constantly increasing output as the trial run progresses. In early 2018, we will be producing renewable district heat for the needs of as many as 25 000 one-bedroom apartments, said Aleksi Nurmi, Helen’s Project Manager.

Wood pellets will replace the use of fossil fuels in Helen’s district heat production. Helen’s renewable district heat production will grow significantly after the completion of the heating plant.

The pellet heating plant is located in a densely-built urban environment in the Salmisaari power plant area, and the building is now complete apart from a few finishing touches. The project has generated and will generate, new employment in the construction industry, pellet manufacture and logistics in Finland.

The trial runs of the plant will continue until the winter, and after that, the plant will be ready for undisturbed operation. The inauguration of the pellet heating plant will be held in late winter 2018.

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