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Study shows Finnish methanation project to be technically feasible

Gasum Oy, Kemira Oy and the City of Lappeenranta have assessed the techno-economic feasibility of a renewable gas production plant, or methanation plant, in Joutseno, Finland. If implemented on the scale now examined with an annual production of 18–28 MW, the methanation plant could be by far the largest plant in the world producing renewable methane from hydrogen and carbon dioxide, by-products from local industry.

According to a statement from Finland’s gas major Gasum Oy, the techno-economic feasibility study was conducted by engineering consultants Neste Jacobs and led in cooperation by Gasum, the chemicals company Kemira Oyj and the City of Lappeenranta. The results of the feasibility study show the Joutseno methanation plant project to be technically feasible and the investment outlay to be around EUR 45–62 million depending on the concept chosen to implement it.

We intend to continue studies relating to the methanation plant including assessment of gas production costs, implementation and profitability. In the concept, the hydrogen created as a by-product in Kemira’s Joutseno plant and recyclable carbon dioxide from the local forest industry would be processed into renewable methane. We estimate that the plant could come on stream at the earliest in 2019, said Jouni Haikarainen, Senior Vice President, Natural Gas, Gasum in a statement.

We want to use the methanation plant feasibility study to accelerate the transformation of research carried out at Lappeenranta University of Technology into a genuine business. By producing synthetic natural gas, we are seeking an answer to a global problem: how to store renewable energy for use during certain times of the day when solar or wind power is unavailable. A plant investment like this would be a textbook example of the circular economy and of the fact that all industrial material flows could be re-used 100 percent, said Markku Heinonen, Development Manager, City of Lappeenranta.

The feasibility study has been done as a national key project as part of the Lappeenranta-Imatra region growth agreement with the State. Looking ahead, the City of Lappeenranta considers it important for the State to recognise new forms of synthetic fuel that recycle carbon dioxide and treat them taxwise as renewable energy.

It was interesting to be involved in the techno-economic feasibility study of the gas production plant based on new technology and industrial integration. The results of the techno-economic study show the Joutseno methanation plant to be technically feasible in the future and its concept seems promising, said Jarmo Suominen, Managing Director and CEO of Neste Jacobs.

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