Towards fossil free mills

One of our strategic sustainability objectives is that we won’t use any fossil fuels in our production by the of 2030, thus we would not generate any fossil-based carbon dioxide emissions either.
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This is no easy objective, and achieving the goal requires a lot, but we work towards it every day.

“Climate issues are discussed a lot in society. People are generally of the opinion that fossil-based CO2 emissions should be reduced. We are at the forefront of this work, given that we aim to zero our fossil emissions,” says Arto Lampinen, SVP, Technology, at Metsä Group.

In 2021, 90% of the fuels used in our production were fossil free – mainly wood-based side streams, such as sawdust and bark as well as logging residue.

Energy efficiency lies at the core of everything

Energy efficiency and energy conservation are integral for achieving the objective of Fossil free mills. The more energy we save and the more efficiently we use it, the less emissions we generate.

“We’re also continuously trying to reduce the use of fossil fuels. We’re thinking whether we could use bio-based fuels instead of fossil fuels", says Lampinen.

Sawdust is a side stream from our pulp mills

Long-range work – investments play a major role

The journey towards fossil free mills requires long-range planning and continuous work.

‘’We’re planning measures that we’ll be implementing throughout the coming decade. If a mill’s equipment has to be modernised within four to five years, the modernisation will be carried out in such a way that fossil fuels can be completely eliminated.”

New mills and production lines will be designed to be fossil free from the outset, such as the Kemi bioproduct mill, which will start production in a year, and the Rauma sawmill, which is now in trial operation

Given that fossil free production is such a major global goal, the technology making use of fossil free fuels is also developing at a rapid pace.

‘’However, we need to consider timeliness and adopt long-range solutions. We need to think about where and when to invest in new technology,” says Lampinen.

Lampinen hopes that we will be able to invest, and build new production lines, as new solutions can be introduced at the same time

“The efficiency arises from the fact that we can design the entire system to be resource efficient and fossil free from the start.”

Bark is a side stream from our pulp mills and used as biofuel.

Read how Metsä Group works towards fossil free future

Metsä Fibre
took a big step towards becoming fossil free with the start-up of the Äänekoski bioproduct mill in 2017. The start-up of Kemi bioproduct mill in 2023 will enhance this development.

"Even though the Äänekoski mill was built as energy efficient to begin with and although its electricity self-sufficiency rate is  240%, we continue to actively improve our energy efficiency and environmental efficiency,'' says Ari-Pekka Vanamo, VP, Mill Manager.

When completed, the new bioproduct mill in Kemi will also operate entirely without fossil fuels and will have a 250% self-sufficiency rate in electricity. Metsä Fibre is continuously developing energy efficiency and fossil free production.

"The lime kiln in Joutseno runs on product gas produced from bark. We're progressing towards fossil free production one step at a time throughout Metsä Fibre," says Vanamo.

For Metsä Board, the objective of fossil free mills means that the company needs to find alternatives for process fuels and for the oil and peat used in power plants.

“We’ve used liquid or natural gas in the drying of paperboard coating. This is because the use of steam becomes challenging wherever you need temperatures higher than 200 degrees," says Matti Korhonen, Energy Efficiency Manager.

“Metsä Board has already invested in energy efficiency, and we’re looking for saving targets and carrying out saving measures on a daily basis. At Simpele mill, we’re trying to reduce the use of peat significantly making a change in the fuel metering system.”

The production of Metsä Wood’s plywood and Kerto mills is energy intensive. Production side streams, such as bark, sawdust and sanding dust, are ideal for energy production.

“At Suolahti, the fuels are our own side streams. Fossil fuels are used only in exceptional situations, such as during maintenance and start-ups. In normal conditions, the energy production is entirely bio-based,” says Ossi Vaara, Development Manager.

The work done at the power plants has been very good. At Punkaharju, the power of the power plant’s bioboiler has been increased and there has been fairly little use for the standby boiler.

“We’ve worked hard to reduce the use of fossil fuels for a long time now, and our energy efficiency is improving all the time,” says Vaara.

Metsä Tissue has stopped using peat in its energy production at the Mänttä mill. Peat has been replaced with renewable wood fuels such as bark and other wood by-products. Work to achieve fossil free energy continues, including further development of energy sources.

"Moving away from peat has been our long-term plan. Already in 2017, we invested in converting the main boiler into a bioboiler, which enabled us to stop using peat altogether in the end of 2020," says Kari Karttunen, VP Production at Metsä Tissue’s Mänttä mill.