Reducing environmental impacts of thermal energy
Thermal energy production is based on the combustion of fuels, and its most significant environmental impacts are related to flue-gas emissions, emissions to water, and wastes and by-products, like ash and desulphurisation products.
The impacts of thermal energy production on the environment can be reduced with the use of various combustion and flue-gas cleaning technologies and by fuel switching. The main way to reduce the environmental impacts of thermal energy production is to switch from fossil fuels to renewable fuels. This reduces especially carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide emissions, and, depending on the combustion technique, there is also a reduction in nitrogen oxide.
The overall efficiency of fuel use in CHP production is high compared to that of condensing power production. Therefore the emissions per produced energy unit are lower than in condensing power production, and CHP reduces the environmental impacts. In CHP production, the need for cooling water is minimal and thus the thermal load into water systems is significantly reduced.
Emissions to air
The environmental impacts of thermal energy plants are regulated by plant-specific environmental permits, which set limitations for emissions and obligations for monitoring and reporting emissions. In 2013, Fortum continued preparations for the investments needed to fulfil the new emissions requirements set by the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) in the EU countries. The IED tightens the emissions requirements for practically all of Fortum's thermal power plants (CHP plants and condensing power plants) from 2016 onwards.
In Russia, actions continued to use better quality coal within technical and contractual limitations at Fortum's thermal power plants. This has resulted in reduced sulphur dioxide and particle emissions per used ton of coal. Boiler efficiency
was improved through boiler modifications at a couple of power plants.
Our key environmental responsibility indicators, specific CO2 emissions from total energy production and efficiency of fuel use, developed unfavourably in spite of improvement actions. Specific CO2 emissions from total energy production have been on a continuous rise with the increased use of fossil fuels during the last five years. The emissions, however, are lower than the target level of 200 g/kWh. The overall efficiency of fuel use has decreased during the last five years because of increased condensing power production, and we have not reached our 70% target.
Utilisation of waste and by-products
In 2013, the utilisation rate for ash was 48% (2012: 51%) and for gypsum 99% (2012: 89%). Gypsum utilisation rate in 2012
has been recalcuated based on reclassification of desulphurisation products. At Fortum's plants in Europe, by-products and waste are utilised and recycled as efficiently as possible. Gypsum is used as raw material in the plasterboard industry. Fly ash is used in the construction material industry, road construction, land filling and mine filling. The Joensuu power plant applied for a permit to build a noise reduction wall around the plant area using ashes from the plant. A project to get CE labelling for the bottom ashes from Fortum's plants started during the year.
In Russia, ash is stored in ash basins because there is no demand for ash utilisation.
Impact on water systems to be further reduced
The impacts of thermal power plants on water systems result
from the thermal load of cooling water, the release of solids, and nitrogen, phosphorus and heavy metal emissions. Wastewater from power plants is treated mechanically, chemically or biologically before being released into water systems. The wastewater from certain plants is led into municipal wastewater networks.
In recent years, Fortum's Russian power plants have had repeated exceedings of wastewater permit conditions. Actions to improve the situation continued in 2013, but the number of exceedances remained at the 2012 level. The actions included changing the anticorrosion agent, and separating and reducing the water flowings through the ash ponds of the coal-fired plants. In addition studies were started to install better oil separation systems. Possible investment decisions will be made in 2014.