CEO’s Review

Development in the waste and energy sectors has been very fast especially over the last decade, and it seems that the pace is only quickening in the future. A strong drive towards zero-emissions directs the development of both industries. 

Zero-emissions and circular economy as starting points for development

Westenergy is a link between two very rapidly changing sectors as the WtE plant is an important part of municipal waste management and, at the same time, a significant local energy producer, producing some half of the district heat needed in the Vaasa region and electricity for the annual need of some 10 000 households. Our position in this intersection makes the operating environment interesting but also challenging. Development in the waste and energy sectors has been very fast especially over the last decade, and it seems that the pace is only quickening in the future. A strong drive towards zero-emissions directs the development of both industries.

We have taken the Vaasa region one step closer to carbon-neutral energy production.


We at Westenergy aim also at developing the operation of the company and plant continuously so that it would cause as little stress on the environment and climate as possible. In this sense, last year was particularly significant as the new flue gas scrubber was taken into use in the plant. Flue gas purification was on a high level already before the scrubber but now flue gases can be purified even more efficiently. At the same time, the energy efficiency of the plant has improved significantly as the scrubber brings an extra 10-megawatt output to the district heat production without any additional fuel. The investment was successful, and I would like to thank Vaasan Sähkö for excellent co-operation in the project. We have again taken the Vaasa region one step closer to carbon-neutral energy production.

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Circular economy is here to stay and strongly directs development today. Circular economy is not just recycling but a modern economic model that challenges us to look at production processes and possibilities to utilise different materials in a completely new way. The result of circular economy is a world where no waste is created but by-products and residues become raw materials for new production processes. Moreover, it is important to keep the value of different materials in circulation.

Our goal is to optimise the operation of the plant but also to promote the development of true circular economy in our wide operation area. Our co-operation with Lakeuden Etappi and Suomen Erityisjäte in the utilisation of the ash of the plant is a textbook example of working circular economy. Metal separated from the ash is recycled and the ash is utilised in construction infrastructure and as raw material for different concrete products such as paving stones and concrete elements. Metal recycling reduces climate stress in many ways, and using ash preserves natural materials such as sand and gravel. With the help of circular economy, natural resources can be used in a more sustainable way.

Our goal is to optimise the plant operation and promote the development of true circular economy.

Zero-emissions and promoting circular economy are the starting points in developing the company, and our vision is that by 2030 the logistics related to our operation is very much biogas-driven, that different materials related to our production process are utilised even more efficiently than today and that our energy production is carbon-neutral. In outlining the strategy, these goals were considered the most central, and the goals have been refined into concrete circular economy projects in good co-operation with the University of Vaasa and Vaasa Energy Business Innovation Centre, VEBIC. In a newly launched project that has received a subsidy of 100 000 euros from the Finnish Ministry of Employment and Economy, we aim at discovering the best way to capture, store and utilise the CO2 of the plant.

Co-operation plays a key role in all our circular economy projects.

It goes without saying that it is impossible for Westenergy to solve complex climate and circular economy challenges alone. Co-operation with universities and different industrial operators is, therefore, a very central dimension in all our circular economy projects. We aim to identify these operators and technical pioneers and build consortiums to waste-to-energy sector that could together carry out projects in circular economy and solve development challenges. In our opinion, challenges related to climate and circular economy can be more effectively solved with voluntary co-operation projects than with simple tax increases or emissions trading. True development cannot be achieved with sanctions but with incentives and motivation. As an alternative to the taxation of energy recovery and emissions trading, we have outlined a suggestion about Green Deal for the Ministry of Environment together with interest groups and several other operators. Green Deal is a contract that is based on voluntary and local promotion of circular economy.

The role of energy recovery has caused wide discussion throughout its existence. In our opinion, energy recovery has an important role for the functionality of the entire society as waste-to-energy plants such as the one owned by Westenergy refine that part of waste that cannot otherwise be utilised into electricity, heat and recovered materials. Energy recovery is an important part of circular economy and continuous improvement directs the development of it.

Despite the challenging service stop, we produced more energy than before.

Westenergy’s year 2019 was eventful in many ways. Westenergy got a new owner company, Loimi-Hämeen Jätehuolto, and the other owners reinforced their shares in the company in the process. Due to a new owner company, Westenergy’s operation area covers now about 20 percent of the municipalities in Finland. Widening owner basis is a sign of trust towards Westenergy’s operation and together with the wide and skilled owner group we can develop operation further. I want, therefore, to thank all our owner companies for successful co-operation in 2019.


I also want to thank our staff for good work in 2019. We were able to achieve many of the goals laid out for the year. The installation of the flue gas scrubber brought remarkable challenges especially to the service stop but we were still able to produce more energy than ever before during the plant’s eight-year history. We have a motivated and skilled staff with whom I’m proud to continue developing the operation of the plant and company for new challenges over the new decade.


Olli Alhoniemi, CEO