Kotka, Finland


Kotka, Finland, is saving 390,000 tons of CO2 emissions each year through district heating and combined heat and power production (CHP) using renewable and recycled sources, as well as natural gas. By implementing a package of measures and avoiding outdated forms of power generation, Kotka has demonstrated the dramatic positive impact a local energy company can make to reduce CO2 emissions.

What is it?

Kotkan Energia Oy (Kotka Energy Ltd) is the local energy company and is 100%-owned by Kotka municipality. District heating has 55% of the market share for heating in Kotka and is a highly efficient form of power generation. In Kotka, district heating generates 180,000 tCO2 in reductions per year compared to what would be achieved using condensing power generation. Further measures account for a total emission reduction of 390,000 tCO2 per year.

How does it work?

In 2003, a €25m 65 MW biofuel power plant was built by Kotka Energy. This plant burns wood fuels and recycled fuel, producing the base load for district heating in Kotka as well as electricity for some industries. Combustion gases are decontaminated in two stages by an electric filter and a flue gas scrubber.

Ash, particles and dust are removed by electric filter (resolution 99.82 % of particles). Gaseous impurities are also removed by flue gas scrubber, so that the total resolution for entire plant is 99.94%. In addition, the Hovinsaari power plant was also converted from coal to a combined cycle gas turbine using natural gas. Together, these plants save 100,000 tCO2 per year.

A new municipal waste incineration plant is in development to produce industrial steam, electricity and district heat in the CHP process, and will reduce emissions by 80,000 tCO2. Two wind power facilities have been constructed with 1MW capacity and 500 ha of local farmland are being used to grow energy crops. Biogas from old landfill sites is burnt for district heating.


District heating is economically competitive for both customers and the vendor – it makes good sense to include district heating in a energy business plan. CHP is the most efficient way to produce energy – heat and electricity – by burning fuels, making it economically competitive. Despite high investment costs, biofuels and peat are cheaper for Kotka Energy to purchase than oil, coal or natural gas, meaning they have economic as well as environmental advantages. Domestic waste used for incineration has a negative price, meaning CHP production is highly profitable.

CO2 emissions reduction

Kotka Energy's programme to cut emissions has resulted in 390,000 tCO2 in annual emission reductions – around 30% of the total emissions from all energy and industrial production in Kotka municipality. In 2006, the company achieved emission levels of just 120,000 tCO2 and plans for more wind plants and biomass gasification will reduce this even more, by reducing the amount of natural gas used.

Energy efficiency

In 2006, provision of district heat provided by Kotka Energy was 379 GWh, process steam 142 GWh and electricity 264 GWh. The total sum of used fuels in energy production was 964 GWh.


Turnover for Kotka Energy was €29m in 2006, of which €25m went on fuel and operational costs. The cost of establishing a system like that in Kotka is estimated at €150m ($215m).

District heating was started in 1967 and is estimated to have cost €40m at today's prices. CHP investments have totaled €55m. A series of significant production investments have been made since 1997, such as the new waste-to-energy plant, which cost €55m.

Next steps

Kotka Energy have a range of activities planned to accelerate their commercial and environmental success. A waste-to-energy CHP plant will open in 2008, as are more wind power plants. Plans include a biomass gasification facility and district cooling for air conditioning systems.