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Biofuel plant to power 5,000 vehicles annually with sawdust

The Finnish government has agreed to foot 30 percent of the bill for a planned biofuel plant in Kajaani. The facility will produce bioethanol from waste sawdust, promising environmental, employment and other benefits for the economically-challenged Kainuu region.

St1:n bioetanolitehdas Närpiössä
St1 Biofuels already produces bioethanol in several locations including Närpes in western Finland. Image: St1 Biofuels Oy

The Ministry of Employment and the Economy announced on Thursday that it has granted the St1 Biofuels company 12 million euros in investment supports to build a biofuel refinery in Kajaani, east-central Finland. The facility should be up and running just over a year from now.

“We plan to launch the project as soon as possible, depending on official decisions,” says a pleased St1 Biofuels CEO Mika Aho. “Besides the financial value, this decision brings confirmation that we’re doing something that can benefit society.”

The firm expects the plant to produce some 10 million litres of biofuel annually – or “enough to operate about 5,000 vehicles for a year,” Aho estimates.

Toimitusjohtaja Mika Aho.
Aho Image: YLE / Kari Mustonen

Last spring, St1 Biofuels was granted an environmental permit to produce bioethanol from sawdust. The price tag for the whole project is around 40 million euros.

“Finland has significant opportunities in the bioeconomy field, and this Kajaani venture is a good example. We have every prerequisite to be a forerunner in the global bioeconomy, with our natural resources, traditions of using them sustainably and our high level of know-how,” Minister of Economic Affairs Jan Vapaavuori said on Thursday.

Win-win prospect

MP Eero Suutari praised the project for its positive benefits in employment, district heat production, the sawmill industry and the future of the Kainuu region’s forest reserves.

“The venture is also positive from a climate point of view, as it will cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 16,000 tonnes annually,” Suutari told Yle.

Another local MP, Raimo Piirainen, stressed the job-creation aspect in this high-unemployment area.

“During the design and construction phase, the plant will create about 200 person-years of work. When it’s ready, it will directly and indirectly employ more than 30 people.”

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