Metsä Group’s business areas make up a strong value chain. In its various phases, the wood is used as thoroughly as possible as pulp, wood products, paperboard, tissue paper and bioenergy, for example. On this strong foundation, we constructed a bioproduct mill that is the largest wood-processing plant in the Northern Hemisphere.
Metsä Group has strong roots in Äänekoski, where pulp production began as far back as 80 years ago. The bioproduct mill replaced the previous pulp mill, which had been operational since 1985 and was nearing the end of its useful life. The new mill was built in the existing mill area, next to the forest industry activity that was already there. Metsä Board’s paperboard mill, for example, is located in the same integrated mill.
The new mill is called a bioproduct mill since it manufactures a number of different bioproducts in addition to pulp, produces more bioenergy than it needs, and uses no fossil fuels at all. It will utilise 100 per cent of its wood raw material and production side streams. The bioproducts made from side streams already account for about 20 per cent of the mill’s net sales.
The network of companies around the mill, set to expand in the future, converts pulp and the side streams of pulp production into bioproducts that offer higher added value than before. This will support the competitiveness of the mill complex and increase supply in the growing market for wood-based bioproducts.
The ecosystem created by the bioproduct mill is globally unique. The products whose manufacturing at the mill and in its ecosystems has already started include product gas, biogas and sulphuric acid. The mill also produces traditional biochemicals, such as tall oil, turpentine and bioenergy.
Significant impact on national economy
The bioproduct mill is the largest investment ever made in the forest industry in Finland. The value of the investment is EUR 1.2 billion. The mill has a significant impact on the Finnish economy by providing new jobs and economic growth. The mill will increase the value of exports by around EUR 0.5 billion per year.
Its effect on employment in the direct value chain is roughly 2,500 jobs, and the mill will bring about 1,500 new jobs. The employment effects are most significant in the forest economy, harvesting and transportation.
First-rate environmental and energy efficiency
The bioproduct mill represents the highest level of energy, material and environmental efficiency in the world. Although the mill’s production capacity is nearly triple that of the old mill at Äänekoski, it can operate within the emission limits of the previous mill’s environmental permit and wastewater permit conditions.
Energy efficiency as well as low water consumption and emissions functioned as key criteria for the mill’s equipment choices. No surprise then that it is the most energy-efficient pulp mill in the world – its equipment solutions are based on highly advanced energy technology. The mill produces 1.8 terawatt-hours of electricity a year, which amounts to 2.4 times its own consumption. All in all, this represents 2.5 per cent of Finland’s entire electricity production.
Fossil-free production unit
A significant share of all renewable energy produced in Finland is generated when black liquor, consisting of wood and cooking chemicals, is combusted in a recovery boiler in pulp production. This process converts the cooking chemicals into a reusable form.
The bioproduct mill will increase the share of renewable energy in Finland by more than two percentage points. The bioproduct mill will not use any fossil fuels at all, given that it generates all of the bioenergy that it needs from wood and the side streams of production. The fossil fuel for the lime kiln has been replaced with product gas from gasified bark.