The world’s largest biomass gasification plant has been inaugurated in Finland by the country’s Labour Minister Lauri Ihalainen.

The 140 MW plant in Vaasa is owned by Vaskiluodon Voima and the bio-gasification work was carried out by Finnish company Metso.

Metso delivered fuel handling, a large-scale dryer and a circulating fluidised bed gasifier, modification work on the existing coal boiler and a DNA automation system.

The bio-gasification facility was constructed as part of an existing coal-fired plant and the produced gas will be combusted along with coal in the existing coal boiler.

The biomass conversion has been turned around quickly – the contract for the new plant was announced in June 2011 and Metso completed construction by the end of last year.

Rami Vuola, chairman of Vaskiluodon Voima, said commissioning of the new plant “can be considered a complete energy turnaround” and added that it was “a major step in our company’s target of using mainly domestic fuels for heat and electricity production”.

Jyrki Holmala, president of Metso Power, said: “Coal boilers still account for the majority of power production in the world. Bio-gasification technology of this scale offers a new, cost-effective option for increasing the share of biomass and, consequently, for significantly decreasing the use of and emissions from coal.”

He added: “I’m sure that Vaskiluoto’s investment in increasing the use of renewable energy will draw major international attention. Coal powered plants can be made greener, and Vaskiluoto’s plant is leading the way.”

Vaskiluodon Voima has power plants in Vaasa and Seinajoki and is equally owned by energy companies EPV Energia and Pohjolan Voima.