Decreasing environmental impacts
Our energy production is primarily based on carbon dioxide-free hydropower, nuclear power and on energy-efficient combined heat and power (CHP) production. We are targeting a gigawatt-scale solar and wind portfolio to realise our vision of a cleaner world.
Facts and figures on environmental impacts in 2017
Sulphur dioxide & nitrogen oxide emissions
Our energy production plants originated sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions 18,800 t, nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions 27,500 t and particle emissions 15,800 t into air. 77% of sulphur dioxide, 81% of nitrogen oxide and 98% of particle emissions originated from Russian power plants.
Our plants generated a total of 64 million m3 of wastewater, of which 97% was released into the environment after being treated and 3% was piped to municipal wastewater treatment plants. About 1 t of oil was released into water systems with wastewater.
Ash and gypsum handling
Our power and heat production generated about 810,000 t of ash, 4,000 t of gypsum and 12,800 t of other desulphurisation product. The ash recycling rate was 47% and the gypsum recycling rate 100%.
Our operations in plants generated a total of 34,200 t of other waste, of which 3,200 t was hazardous waste.
Emissions into air
Flue-gas emissions causing local environmental impacts are generated from incineration at energy production plants. The EU has set very strict limits for flue-gas emissions, which necessitates the use of best available technology (BAT). Our nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and particle emissions have decreased significantly in our European production over the past decades through fuel selections and various flue-gas cleaning technologies.
All our plants operate in compliance with the terms of their environmental permits. Currently, most of our plants meet the new emission requirements. We also have a world-class know-how in combustion technology. At Russian power plants, all emissions are limited in accordance with Russian legislation.
We use large volumes of water at various types of power plants and in district heating networks. In most cases, our power plants do not consume water, but water is discharged back to the same water system from where it was sourced. Only in some cases, water is transferred for example through evaporation into the air from cooling towers, by leakages into the ground from district heat piping, or through the discharge of wastewater to a municipal sewage system.
In hydropower production, water flowing in a river is conducted through a turbine to generate electricity, but water is not consumed or altered. The water system is often regulated for hydropower production and the regulation changes the water flow and level patterns compared to their natural state.
We withdrew a total of 2,120 million m3 of water in 2017. Seawater accounted for 72% of this amount - 1,519 m3 in total. We used the majority of the withdrawn water, 1,994 million m3, as cooling water.
Waste and by-products
Ash is a by-product of the combustion of solid fuels at our power plants, and gypsum and other desulphurisation products are by-products of flue-gas desulphurisation. Over half of the ash from our plants operating in Europe is utilised as raw material in for example the construction industry, road construction, soil improvement and as backfill.
Plant maintenance generates scrap metal and other conventional industrial waste as well as waste oil and other hazardous waste to a small extent. We aim to recycle waste whenever possible.
At the Loviisa nuclear power plant, low-level radioactive maintenance waste and intermediate-level radioactive waste are stored in Loviisa’s final repository. High-level spent nuclear fuel is stored in the interim storage at the Loviisa site. In 2017, 23.4 t of spent nuclear fuel was removed from Loviisa power plant’s reactors.
Our impact on biodiversity is mainly linked to our hydropower production in Finland and Sweden. Hydropower construction and the related water regulation alter the conditions in the water systems, and thus impact the diversity of the aquatic habitat and the fish population.
Emissions from fossil fuel-based energy production plants may decrease local biodiversity, especially during new capacity construction projects. In addition, our fuel procurement may have a negative impact on biodiversity.
On the other hand, our production of CO2-free energy replaces fossil fuel-based energy production and thus mitigates climate change, which is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity globally. We continuously aim to minimise our negative impact on biodiversity with environmental compensation and mitigation projects, and we continuously assess the impacts of our new projects.