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From waste to energy

October 10, 2014

Fortum’s Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in Klaipeda produces much of the district heating for Lithuania’s third largest city while also solving waste management problems in the region.

The view from the windows of the Fortum power plant’s control room shows two trucks backing onto a landing stage and dropping their cargo of waste into an enormous waste bunker. The combined load of these two trucks is relatively small; today, a total of 75 trucks will be dropping their loads here.  

As the trucks come and go, two grab cranes work nonstop. Ceaselessly, they move the waste in the bunker to make space for new loads and then lift it into the adjoining incinerator. The power plant never sleeps, so the cranes too work around the clock, seven days a week.

The waste is a combination of biomass, municipal and industrial waste, and it fuels Fortum’s Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant. The plant produces district heating for households and businesses in the city of Klaipeda and electricity for the Lithuanian grid.

The grab cranes delivered by Konecranes are two of the most important major machines at the plant, in addition to the boiler, turbine and the combustion gas scrubber, says Petri Härmä, Head of Large Projects at Fortum.

“The capacity and usability of the grab cranes are instrumental to the reliability and profitability of the entire plant,” Härmä explains.

According to Härmä, Fortum chose Konecranes as the supplier of the grab cranes based on technological and economical comparisons.

“During the first year of operations, the usability of the grab cranes has been good,” he notes.

A great impact on the city of Klaipeda

Producing approximately 140 GWh of electricity and 400 GWh of heat per year, the Fortum plant provides for about 40 percent of the district heating needs of the entire city of Klaipeda, Lithuania’s third largest city and the country’s most important transportation hub, connecting sea, land and railway routes from East to West.

The plant also plays a considerable role in the waste management chain, solving waste management problems in the Klaipeda region and reducing the amount of rubbish deposited in landfills.

The Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė and the Finnish president Sauli Niinistö inaugurated the plant in May 2013, in a stately ceremony that highlighted the significance of the project beyond its contributions to the region of Klaipeda.

“[Fortum Klaipėda] is a concrete example how Lithuania’s and the EU’s energy priorities are successfully translated into action,” Grybauskaitė said.

Grab cranes – safe and reliable workhorses

Construction on the power plant first began in March 2011. It took a total of approximately 1.2 million working hours to complete the facility, and Konecranes was involved from the early stages.  

“Before the plant was opened, we worked eight to twelve hours a day, and were able to finish the grab cranes before Fortum’s deadline,” relates Viktor Gorbacionok, Konecranes’ Site Manager.

Gorbacionok says that safety issues have been given special attention from the very beginning of the plant’s construction, and that the safety of the automated grab cranes operation is also at a very high level.

For instance, the grab cranes have an automatic stop function, which contributes to their safety.

“If a truck comes to the tipping area, the cranes will stay back and stop automatically. The same thing happens if a person gets inside the automatic working area,” Gorbacionok explains.

He demonstrates how the grab crane controls, located outside the waste bunker, operate. The cranes are fully automated and equipped with remote monitoring technology. This means that Konecranes can deliver its expertise to the site very quickly when needed, even without the physical presence of an expert.

“The main advantage for us and the customer is that in case a problem arises that’s difficult to solve locally, automation engineers in Finland or anywhere else in the world are able to connect to the crane remotely using an internet connection and advise local personnel or change some parameters,” Gorbacionok says.

Konecranes technicians visit Fortum Klaipeda a few days each month to ensure that the grab cranes are operating normally. “To me, the continuation of our cooperation means that the client has been pleased with our work,” Gorbacionok says.

Klaudijus Zilinskas, Fortum’s Operations Manager, has been very happy with the co-operation:

“Konecranes’ local after sales support in Lithuania has worked faultlessly, and also quickly when necessary,” he says.

Fortum – boosting its business in Lithuania

Clearly, Fortum is confident in Lithuania’s growth potential.

“Our aim has been to boost our business in Lithuania, which as one of the Baltic countries is an important business area along with Scandinavia, Poland and Russia,” Petri Härmä explains.

The Klaipeda plant concept is in line with Fortum’s business focuses: combined heat and power production at a CHP plant using CO2-neutral waste fuels. Using sorted waste for the combined production of power and heat is a sustainable solution particularly in urban areas. It offers a cost-effective alternative for the needs of energy and waste management and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortum has announced its plans to open a new waste to energy power plant in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas, a project that is estimated to be worth approximately 200 million euros.


Text: Peppiina Ahokas
Photos: Saulius Serapinas

3 Facts

  • In the EU, CHP generation is seen as the most significant method for reducing the creation of greenhouse gases.
  • The Fortum Klaipeda plant is first of its kind in the Baltics.
  • Most of the CHP plants in Europe are located in Germany and France.