17 Jun 2013

Vimmerby offers “home-made” renewable heat

Vimmerby Energi & Miljö makes its biggest investment ever to build a combined heat and power plant purely bark-and-wood-chip fuelled. The NIB-financed project aims to cut annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 6,000 tons, the equivalent of 1,500 polluting cars.

The new green energy plant is scheduled to start regular production of heat and electricity by the end of 2014. The plant will allow Vimmerby Energi & Miljö’s smaller existing district heating plant to use forest residuals as fuel all the year around, and will no longer have to rely on fossil fuel during winters and industrial peak seasons.

The energy company is owned by the municipality of Vimmerby and has a growing customer base of mostly private households and some businesses in the Småland province of Sweden.

“The capacity of our exisiting power plant is simply not sufficient so we are forced to invest as more and more households and businesses want to connect to our services,” says Head of Marketing Mattias Gustafsson at Vimmerby Energi & Miljö.

Many people associate Vimmerby with Astrid Lindgren, the Swedish author who wrote about Pippi Longstocking, Karlsson-on-the-Roof and the Bullerby Children. The author was born and grew up in this Småland town that now houses many attractions connected with her life and literary characters.

The amusement park, Astrid Lindgren’s World, is visited by about 450,000 people every year. That is a remarkable number of visitors for a municipality with only about 15,000 inhabitants. The local business community is therefore quite small. Among the best known companies are Arla Foods AB, Frödinge Dairy Ltd and Åbro Bryggeri AB.

The brewery currently produces its own steam with fossil fuels. The new power plant will allow it and other companies in the region to avoid energy taxes aimed at decreasing the industry’s reliance on fossil fuels. Åbro brewery joined the district heating network in January 2013.

“Vimmerby is growing so it feels well worth making our biggest investment ever,” says Project Manager Mats-Lennart Karlsson at Vimmerby Energi & Miljö.

Construction of the new power plant got started in May 2013. The production is scheduled to commence in August 2014. The Swedish construction company NCC AB will construct the plant site and building, while the Finnish engineering company Metso Corporation will supply the combined heat and power plant equipment.

NIB is financing the project with a EUR 20 million loan, equalling 50% of total project costs. The 20-year-maturity loan is financed by NIB’s Environmental Bonds lending facility, a product for environmentally conscious investors.

The new plant will utilise the latest technology to produce steam and boiling water in addition to district heating and electricity. Vimmerby Energi & Miljö plans to use the idea of “home-made” heat and electricity in its marketing efforts.

“That will most likely be an important selling point in the future, not only for pure marketing purposes, but also as the new plant will allow a more reliable distribution of heat and power,” Gustafsson says. “It’s a good way of building a brand.”

The new plant is being built some two kilometres southwest of the centre of Vimmerby. The existing plant is situated in the centre of Vimmerby and will account for about 30% of Vimmerby Energi & Miljö’s total production.

The new power plant will be 65 metres high and definite landmark in the scenic landscape of Småland. One of the biggest challenges has been to make it fit along the Swedish agrarian idyll cherished by tourists.

“We have spent a lot of time and energy on the design of the plant and we have chosen a solution where we can build the plant under one single roof in order to make it look as good as possible,” Gustafsson says, adding that “Vimmerby cannot remain stuck in its own history, we must develop.”

 

 

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