IEA: Finland a global frontrunner in CHP and district heating

11 October 2013, 13:47 EEST

In the cold north, combined heat and power (CHP) is a cost-effective and climate-bening energy production form.

According to the newly published scorecard from International Energy Agency (IEA), Finland is a long‐established global frontrunner in combined heat and power (CHP) and district heating and cooling (DHC). IEA ranked Finland's CHP policy rating with the best score, five stars.

Some highlights from the report:

  • In 2012, heating of buildings in Finland accounted for approximately one fifth of overall Finnish energy demand, and about half of this demand is connected to district heating networks. However, this proportion exceeds 80 % in larger towns and cities, making Finnish cities – and Finland as a whole – among the highest users of efficient district heating and cooling with CHP in the world.
  • Finland remains one of the best examples in the world of a mature market for CHP that is not underpinned by a strong government incentive regime  
  • CHP has been very successfully incorporated into both district heating and industry in Finland, with the country’s cold climate giving a good return on heat supply infrastructure investment and its widely developed forestry and paper industries – and their associated high heat demand – playing key roles  
  • Renewables are playing an increasingly important role in district heating with growing amounts of biomass and refuse‐derived fuels used to help meet ambitious carbon reduction targets
  • For CHP as a whole, using renewables is a national success story for Finland – during the 10 years prior to 2012, the proportion of CHP electricity met via renewable wood sources has regularly been in excess of 45 %.

Why is CHP such a good production form?

Combined heat and power production (CHP) used for district heating is one of the most efficient ways to produce energy. The efficiency of the primary energy used is close to 90 per cent. Combined generation reduces environmental emissions 25-40%. Multifuel combustion technology allows flexible use of renewable energy sources (such as biomass) and waste as well as traditional fossil fuels.

The heat generated during the power production is used to heat the district heating water or it is used as steam needed in industrial processes.

Fortum and CHP

Energy-efficient combined heat and power production is one of the cornerstones of Fortum’s strategy. With our 29 combined heat and power plants we provide heat into the district heating networks in 90 cities, Stockholm (Sweden), Espoo (Finland) and Chelyabinsk (Russia) among others. In 2012, CHP production accounted for 32 % of our total power production and 79 % of our total heat production.

Working at Järvenpää CHP plant






During the year 2013 we have commissioned three new CHP plants, one in Järvenpää, Finland , one in Klaipeda, Lithuania and one in Jelgava, Latvia. Fuels used in the new plants include municipal and industrial waste, woodchips, forest residues and forest industry by-products such as sawdust and bark. An additional new waste CHP plant built in connection to the Brista power plant in Stockholm, Sweden, will start commercial operation in the end of this year.