Wärsilä, the Finnish sea transportation and power generation group, is limiting its scope of activity in the biopower sector to the northern hemisphere at the moment, despite having concluded that the growth of energy production worldwide from renewable sources is an inevitability.

Last month, the group moved into the renewable energy market for the first time with the acquisition of Finnish company, Sermet Oy, which specializes in small and medium size boiler plants running on biofuels, oil and gas.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Wärsilä vice president of marketing power plants, Jussi Heikkinen said, “We have concluded that what ever happens in the energy market, renewables will grow”.

“We are looking at opportunities in countries where renewable energy is supported by subsidies and at the moment, limiting this to the northern hemisphere”. Heikkinen agreed that there was growing interest in bioenergy in Asia and elsewhere but pointed out the seasonal nature of the energy sources in many cases.

In buying Sermet, Wärsilä strengthens its position as a supplier of decentralized power plant solutions. Sermet’s net sales in 2001 is expected to total approximately €20m. The company has supplied over 1100 stationery or portable boiler plants around the world and has patented its Sermet Biograte rotating grate combustion technology – used for burning wood waste, bark and sawdust.

Wärsilä now generates 30 per cent of its business from service activity in the marine and power markets. It intends to develop this into full power plant and engine room operation and maintenance in the future.