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Chinese firm gives tentative green light to Kemi biorefinery

The CEO of the company's Finnish subsidiary, Carl Haglund, says that next year will bring a final decision – and hopefully a groundbreaking for the billion-euro facility in northern Finland.

Carl Haglund
Carl Haglund has gone from being defence minister and leader of the Swedish People's Party to leading a Chinese power firm's Finnish division. Image: Jarno Tiihonen / Yle

Chinese bioenergy giant Kaidi has this week decided to move ahead with a planned biodiesel refinery in Kemi, northern Finland. The head of the company's Finnish subsidiary, former defence minister Carl Haglund, says that the internal decision is pivotal for the Kemi venture.

"We had agreed earlier to make a decision by year's end as to whether to go ahead with the investment or not. I think it's great that we've now decided to move the project forward," Kaidi Finland CEO Haglund told Yle on Thursday.

However he adds that there has been a misconception that a final decision on the massive plant would be made by the end of this year.

"Maybe some had hoped that we would announce before Christmas the date when the cornerstone would be laid. It's still clear that the goal for that is next year. But some may have a slightly erroneous idea of the kind of timetable for carrying forward a large project like this."

Haglund says that Kaidi is now in negotiations to ensure that the venture has sufficiently strong investors behind it.

"Positive progress"

"The progress has been very positive this past autumn, particularly in regard to legislation and how these biofuel markets will develop in the near future and especially beginning in the 2020s," he says. "Kaidi's goal is to begin construction of the Kemi biorefinery next year."

Last week the Finnish government unveiled plans to invest heavily in bioenergy. The Kemi plant's primary raw material would be scrap wood and by-products of logging such as roots and stumps.

The company has estimated that the total investment could be as much as a billion euros, with some 4,000 jobs created during the building process, and a permanent staff of 150.

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