In 2018, the consumption of wood fuels reached yet another record as a result of the increased use of black liquor produced by the forest industries. Heating and power plants consumed the same amount of solid wood fuels as in the previous year. In addition, the small-scale combustion of wood remained unchanged.
According to the statistics of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), heating and power plants consumed a total of 20 million solid cubic metres (38 terawatt-hours) of solid wood fuels in 2018, being the same amount as in the previous year and also more than ever before.
Consumption of solid by-products decreased
“The consumption of forest industry by-products and wood residues decreased by 3% from the previous year to 11 million cubic metres”, says Esa Ylitalo, Senior Statistician at Luke.
Bark comprised two thirds, or 7.7 million cubic metres, of all solid by-products consumed in energy generation, i.e. the same amount as in the previous year.
A total of 2.5 million cubic metres (–11% from previous year) of different types of sawdust and 1.1 million cubic metres (–10%) of industrial chips were burned.
The consumption of wood pellets and briquettes decreased from the previous year to 0.2 million cubic metres, while that of recycled wood increased to 0.9 million cubic metres.
Consumption of forest chips turned to an increase
The consumption of forest chips increased by 3% from 2017 to 7.4 million cubic metres.
“The use of forest chips in combined heat and power production increased by 4% to 4.7 million cubic metres after a four-year decrease. In heat production, their use increased by 1% to 2.7 million cubic metres”, Ylitalo says.
Together with forest chips burned in small-scale housing (0.6 million cubic metres), the total consumption of forest chips reached 8.0 million solid cubic metres. The current record of 8.7 million cubic metres of forest chips was reached in 2013.
Use of logging residues increasing
A total of 3.9 million cubic metres of small-sized trees were used as raw material for forest chips, being a little less than in 2017. Instead, the use of logging residues increased by one fifth to 2.7 million cubic metres. The consumption of forest chips manufactured from stumps was 0.4 million cubic metres, being over one third lower than in the previous year. However, the use of large-sized timber increased by one sixth to 0.4 million cubic metres.
The consumption of solid wood fuels at heating and power plants was the highest in the Central Finland region. Forest industry by-products and wood residues were burned the most in the South Karelia region, while forest chips were burned the most in the Uusimaa region.
Wood the most significant energy source
Last year, wood fuels represented the most important energy source in Finland, covering 27% of total energy consumption. According to preliminary data from Statistics Finland, the consumption of wood fuels totalled 105 terawatt-hours in 2018. This is a new record and 4% higher than in the previous year. This increase resulted from the increased use of black liquor produced by forest industries, while other main wood fuel classes were at the previous year’s level.