At Lounavoima, climate values and sustainably produced energy guide all operations. QHeat’s heat well reduces energy waste and cuts the use of fossil fuels.
“In the Salo region, production companies and especially international companies are becoming more and more aware of the sustainability of their energy mix. District heating customers need and demand emission-free energy. This is another reason why climate issues guide Lounavoima’s investment decisions,” says Petri Onikki, Managing Director of Lounavoima and Salon Kaukolämpö.
Lounavoima is owned by waste management services provider Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto Oy and district heating company Salon Kaukolämpö Oy. Founded in 2017, Lounavoima’s main task is to recycle into district heating and electricity municipal waste that cannot be recycled by Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto.
To this end, Lounavoima built and commissioned the Korvenmäki eco-power plant in 2021.
“Using municipal waste for heating energy is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in both waste management and energy production. With the commissioning of the Korvenmäki eco-power plant, Salo’s district heating carbon dioxide emissions were halved by replacing fossil fuels and peat with waste fuel.”
The Korvenmäki eco-power plant produces around 180 GWh of heating energy from municipal waste every year. However, the plant’s efficiency has been seasonal: during the warmer months, the plant produces significant surplus heat. On an annual basis, about a quarter of this is lost as waste heat.
QHeat completed a 1 600 meter-deep geothermal well at the power plant in the summer of 2021. The well will serve as a waste heat storage facility. The thermal energy stored in the well will be used for district heating, mainly in winter.
“In line with our strategy, we want to be at the forefront of the circular economy and an active player in reducing CO2 emissions and improving waste recovery. In achieving these goals, the importance of partners is highlighted. Waste energy recovery and storage makes waste recovery even more efficient,” Onikki comments.
Less oil in peak consumption
“Our direction is well reflected in the consumption behaviour and rhythm of life in the Salo region. Typically, there is a consumption peak between seven and nine in the morning. For example, a lot of hot water is consumed before going to work,” says Onikki.
The geothermal thermal energy stored in QHeat’s geothermal well covers energy demand at peak consumption times and reduces oil consumption for district heating.
“Replacing oil with recycled and geothermal energy is a great fit for our business idea. The increase in oil prices is also one of the factors that will accelerate the payback of the mining investment.”
Up to five additional wells planned
The QHeat well being tested by Southwest Power is the first geothermal well to be built at the eco-power plant.
Lounavoima is currently making a preliminary plan to drill more wells: five new geothermal heat wells are planned to be built on the power plant site. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has granted investment aid for Lounavoima’s geothermal well project.
The six geothermal wells have the potential to store up to 10 GWh of thermal energy, equivalent to the annual consumption of around 500 private houses.
“If we decide to build six geothermal wells, the overall energy efficiency of the wells will improve.”
Wells spark international interest
QHeat’s patented solution is unique – there are no comparable geothermal heat wells anywhere else in the world. The value of the geothermal well has been noted by the eco-power plant. Tours of the power plant also pass through the thermal well: according to Onikki, visitors to the wellhead have come from as far as Turkey and Israel.
“The well is interesting not only as an inexhaustible source of energy, but also because of its sheer depth. Every group that visits the site asks something about the well. They are surprised to learn that the well, which extends to a depth of more than a kilometre and a half, is only the diameter of a pizza,” Onikki smiles.