Compound solution for the needs of primary production and waste management
While implementing its first turnkey biogas plant in Vampula (Finland) Watrec developed a unique concept for building a functional biogas plant. It was a concept that handled different waste from municipalities, industry and primary production, being both economically profitable and environmentally friendly at the same time.
- VamBio Huittinen, Gasum Ltd.
- Year built: 2009
- Capacity: 60 000 tn/a | 3 MW
- Materials: Waste water sludge, pig slurry, biodegradable food industry waste, residue of bioethanol production
- Watrec had the desire to design their own solution
- Finland had not seen a similar plant built with private investment
- After a long and extensive R&D project, Watrec designed a reliable and efficient biogas plant
- The plant was the first industrial-sized biogas plant in Finland
A new concept with a completely new business model
Vampula region in western Finland has a high density of pig farming. The VamBio plant project got started when three pig farm owners decided to establish a pig slurry processing plant. They contacted Watrec, which had previous experience with managing biogas plant projects and consultant work and had performed profitability assessments for renewable energy projects.
By that moment Watrec had never delivered an entire plant according to its own design. However, the management of the company had a precise vision on how a biogas plant should be designed and constructed, and thus was decided to implement a flagship project. As a result, Watrec took part as one of the investors. This was a completely new business model, where the project’s funding, execution and the operation of the plant were delivered by the same company.
Two-phase project delivery reduced customer’s risk
At the starting point of the project the idea was to treat only the pig slurry produced by the partners. However later it became clear that processing only pig slurry would not be economically feasible, and soon more material for processing was found – sewage sludge and industrial by-pass products.
It was one of the reasons why the project was executed in two phases. In the first phase, the plant was designed with a half capacity although with the possibility of extension. In the second phase – while the start-up was still in progress – the capacity of the plant was increased without production interruptions. This reduced the customer’s risk in the initial stage investment. As a result, nowadays the plant can receive up to 60 000 tons of waste annually.
A reliable and cost-efficient solution
Watrec designed a robust, reliable and easy in operation biogas plant in Vampula. In order to increase odour control there was established a pipeline connection between the plant and the pig farms that enabled the pumping of raw material straight from the farm into the biogas plant. While constructing the pipe connection, the civil engineering was exploited to install also the pipelines to district heating network. The energy produced in the biogas plant was applied to heat up the process and through the district heating network to heat the pig farms.
Another innovative solution of Watrec was utilization of produced energy. The plant had own heat system, which provided heat to the process, and a heating network system for the pig farms. The biogas plant was equipped with two own CHP units, which produced both heat and power. Biogas was also utilized as it is in Nordkalk Oy, lime factory, where it is still being delivered through 1700 meters of a gas pipeline. Biogas utilisation in VamBio was diversified and innovative even in its logistics.
Nowadays VamBio is regarded as a large-scale plant, and at the time of its construction was one of the first centralized biogas facilities in Finland. The success of VamBio plant lies in its cost-efficiency. The plant made profit already during its first year of operation, which was unusual for a biogas facility. Many times the first year can even show a loss, caused by covering investment and a start-up. In this sense, being profitable became noteworthy and arose a huge interest from investors and clients.
Turnkey delivery with continuous maintenance services
Watrec has realized the project, participating from a beginning to an end, from early reports, permits and further consultancy, all the way to technical planning and turnkey delivery. After the actual project ended, Watrec has also proceeded with plant supporting by offering different consulting, monitoring and upgrading services.
With VamBio’s biogas plant, Watrec made a step forward from specialist work to contracting. During the project, the company had to learn a completely new kind of business, and it created a new operational model that would have been used as a basis for biogas facilities in the future.
“Compared to oil, biogas burns cleaner and without problems, and it is a bit more economically efficient. Also, there are, of course, environmental benefits. Watrec took our needs as the end-user into account already during the design phase. Collaboration with them has gone faultlessly in both building and operation phases, and is still smoothly on-going.”
– Ville Helin, Nordkalk Oy Ab
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