The Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) has issued a statement on the environmental impact assessment of the investments pertaining to Helsingin Energia’s development programme. The planned investments would significantly increase the use of biofuels, and they are part of Helsingin Energia’s development programme towards a carbon-neutral future. The ELY Centre gave positive feedback on the extensively implemented environmental impact assessment and on involving the citizens in the process.
Helsingin Energia aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent on the 1990 level and to increase the share of renewable energy to 20 per cent by 2020. In the completed EIA process, environmental impacts were assessed with respect to three alternatives:
• (VE1) A new multifuel power plant, to be built in Vuosaari, that is able to use biofuels and coal with different mixture ratios. In this alternative, the target concerning the reduction of greenhouse gases can be achieved if about 60 per cent of the fuel energy level of the plant consists of renewables. If the building of plant C at Vuosaari goes ahead, the Hanasaari B power plant will be decommissioned and the Salmisaari power plant will start using 5–10 per cent of biofuels. According to the ELY Centre, the best alternative in terms of reducing climate impacts would be to use 100 per cent of biofuels.
• The second alternative (VE2) is to make significant changes in the combustion technology and storage at the Salmisaari and Hanasaari power plants. This would mean that 40 per cent of fuel energy would be obtained from wood pellets at the annual level. The targets would be reached with this alternative, too.
• The so-called zero alternative (VE0+) is that only changes in line with the new emission limits would be made at the Hanasaari and Salmisaari power plants, replacing 5–10% of coal with pellets. In this alternative, the targets set for year 2020 would not be reached.
Helsinki City Council will decide on the investments in Helsingin Energia’s development programme in 2015.
As the contact authority of the project, the Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment is satisfied with the extensively implemented EIA process. ‘The EIA project has involved citizens to an exceptional degree. In my opinion, the project has adhered to particularly open and interactive planning,’ says Chief Inspector Leena Eerola of the Uusimaa ELY Centre. 'The EIA has also been implemented in a clear and rigorous way in other respects,’ she continues.
According to the Uusimaa ELY Centre, the assessment of the report has focused on key impacts in terms of the project, and the assessed impacts have mainly been highlighted in a clear way. However, the ELY Centre points out that, if the Vuosaari alternative is selected for further planning, the number of cooling water abstraction and discharge places should be higher than presented in the report.
Moreover, the leakage and flush waters produced in the construction of the energy tunnel, and their preliminary treatment and conducting into the sewage system, must be examined in further planning.
The guideline values for noise in the residential areas around the planned Vuosaari C power plant are not exceeded, but in some places in the nature conservation areas in Porvarinlahti the guideline values for noise will also be exceeded in the future. In the planning of the project, attention must be paid to preventing the spreading of noise to the conservation and residential areas. Nature impacts can be reduced with the timing of excavation and dredging and careful selection of the location of the coal store.
According to the ELY Centre, it is also important to take into account that the VE2 and VE0 alternatives would prevent the use of Hanasaari as a residential and employment district. Furthermore, the bridge connection in Kruununvuorenranta cannot be implemented as a functioning solution between Sompasaari and Kruununhaka while the Hanasaari B power plant is in operation.
All materials related to the EIA process are available in the online service of the Environmental Administration: http://www.ymparisto.fi/helenbioyva