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The Valio and St1 joint venture Suomen Lantakaasu Oy is planning a biogas plant investment in Lapinlahti, Sonkajärvi and Nurmes 

The Valio and St1 joint venture Suomen Lantakaasu Oy is preparing a biogas plant investment in Upper Savo and North Karelia. The company’s aim is to create a hybrid plant complex centred around an industrial-scale liquefied biogas production plant in Kiuruvesi and three smaller plants in Lapinlahti, Sonkajärvi and Nurmes. The site for the Kiuruvesi plant was confirmed in August. The company is currently making the final site selections and submitting environmental permit applications for the three plants. 

The new hybrid plant complex will produce renewable domestic energy from the manure and agricultural by-products of cattle farms in the region. The biogas production process will also generate hygienised and odour-free biofertiliser for use by local farmers. The biofertiliser is more efficient and more environmentally friendly than untreated manure. Moreover, farm nitrogen fertiliser costs will decrease, because the amount of soluble nitrogen in biofertiliser is up to 20-30% higher than in manure. 

The biogas plants planned for Lapinlahti, Sonkajärvi and Nurmes will operate as so-called satellite plants in order to keep the biogas feedstock transport distances as short as possible. 

“St1 and Valio are committed to taking the investment plan forward so that a final investment decision could be made in 2024. The aim is to complete the industrial-scale liquefied biogas plant in Kiuruvesi and the Upper Savo and North Karelia plants by 2026,” says Matti Oksanen, Director, Gas Business at St1. 

Biogas plant brings green vitality to municipalities 

Valio and St1’s joint venture Suomen Lantakaasu Oy will soon submit environmental permit applications for the biogas plants to be located in Lapinlahti’s Varpaisjärvi, Sonkajärvi and Nurmes. The biogas plants will be significantly smaller in production volume than the industrial-scale plant in Kiuruvesi; one satellite plant will produce less than one tenth of the total liquefied biogas in Kiuruvesi. The compressed biogas produced at the satellite plants from local agricultural waste will be transported to the Kiuruvesi plant for liquefaction, and the hygienic biofertiliser produced as a by-product of gas production will be supplied back to the farms that are contractual partners with the satellite plant. 

“When deciding on where to site a biogas plant of this size, particular attention must be paid to the availability of feedstock from farms, good transport connections and the availability of suitable sites for operations. We have been pleasantly surprised by the interest that the cattle farmers in these areas have shown towards the satellite plants. Compared to our target, we have more than doubled the letters of intent signed with local farms,” notes Janika Keinänen, Valio’s Project Manager in charge of biogas business development. 

Climate benefits and regional vitality from biogas 

The aim of Valio and St1’s joint venture Suomen Lantakaasu Oy’s hybrid plant complex is to produce a total of one terawatt-hour of renewable transport fuel. This corresponds to a quarter of Finland’s biogas target by 2030.  

Valio’s goal is to zero milk’s carbon footprint by 2035 and to keep the domestic dairy production industry viable across Finland. There is growing interest in biogas production among Valio dairy farms because it has a positive impact on farm profitability, as it improves farm nutrient cycling, among other things. The use of manure in biogas production reduces the carbon footprint of milk production by a quarter at best when taking into account emission reductions from both agriculture and transport. 

St1 is already Sweden’s leading biogas player in the road transport segment. Its biogas operations are located in the urban areas of southern Sweden and in Stockholm. The company produces, imports and exports biogas and supplies it to customers through several sales channels. St1 also has six biogas production and upgrading units in Sweden. St1 is currently building a biogas upgrading and liquefaction facility in Borås, Sweden. The biorefinery is expected to be operational at the end of 2024. 

In Finland, St1 is currently building biogas refuelling stations for heavy transport. The first LBG filling stations will open at the turn of the year in Mäntsälä and Iittala, in Hämeenlinna. In Norway, Biogass Energi AS, 33.33% owned by St1, is building six biogas filling stations across the country; the filling stations will be operational by the end of 2024. St1 aims to have a comprehensive biogas refuelling network in the Nordic countries and to increase production. 

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