UPM explores new opportunities in the green transition

UPM explores new opportunities in the green transition

The need for electricity is estimated to rise significantly in the coming years. The green transition will require CO2-free electricity, such as nuclear, hydro, wind and solar power, but also new innovations to balance the electricity system. UPM is in a unique position for exploring green transition opportunities, as it has assets in fossil-free power generation, biogenic CO2 through our processes and hydrogen production and utilisation in its refinery operations.

As part of the opportunities offered by the green transition, UPM Energy is exploring development of wind and solar power projects mainly on land owned by UPM-Kymmene Corporation. Solar power development is being explored in Utti, Kouvola, and wind power in Western and Eastern Finland. These projects are at an early stage.

“The need for CO2-free electricity is expected to grow significantly in the coming years as society moves away from fossil fuels, industrial processes are being electrified, and through digitalization, the amount of power intense datacentres increases. As Finland’s second largest electricity producer, UPM Energy wants to enable meeting the needs of growing demand for electricity,” Stefan Sundman, UPM Energy’s Vice President for Stakeholder Relations, says.

One of the sites that is being developed is a solar power project in Haukkasuo and Kiikunsuo in Utti, Kouvola. The land is owned by UPM-Kymmene Corporation and is ideally suited for solar power development due to, among other things, its good solar radiation conditions.

Haukkasuo and Kiikunsuo have so far been leased for peat production. This activity is coming to an end in the next few years and the area has attracted a lot of interest from solar power developers.

“Solar power would provide a great opportunity to continue the area’s long history of energy production beyond peat production. As a landowner, we see areas like this as prime targets for solar power development. We don’t want to develop solar power on productive forest land and cause deforestation,” says Juha Rissanen, UPM Forest’s Land Use Manager.

Clean energy is a prerequisite for sustainable development

UPM Solar Oy, a project company owned by UPM Energy, has submitted a zoning initiative to the City of Kouvola to implement a solar power project in the areas. The initiative will go before the Technical Committee of the City of Kouvola at the end of May. The timetable for possible future development phases will be clarified once a zoning agreement has been signed with the city. Preliminary estimates suggest that the site could altogether fit a generating capacity of 500–700 MW.

Kouvola is well placed to connect solar power to the Finnish grid on a large scale. “Clean energy is key in the ongoing energy transition. Solar power projects will also have a significant positive impact on the regional economy and employment, both directly and indirectly,” says Pasi Miettinen, Managing Director of Kouvola Innovation Oy, the development company of the City of Kouvola.

In addition, UPM Energy is exploring the development of wind power projects mainly on land owned by UPM in Ähtäri, Pieksämäki and Vesanto-Keitele. Depending on the location, developing 70–150 MW of generation capacity could be possible in these areas. UPM Energy will organise public events on each project when the planning process proceeds.

The development of the digital and the green transition will affect electricity demand in the future and therefore influences how these projects may materialise. Any possible investments will be considered only after the development work has been successfully completed, once the feasibility and scale of each project is clear and the requirement for new electricity generation has been assessed in the light of the market situation at that time.

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