Energy efficient ABB transformers support giant next-generation bioproduct mill in Finland

2016-09-05 - ABB is delivering a range of high-efficiency transformer products for the world’s most energy-efficient pulp mill, located in Äänekoski, central Finland.

The huge Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill in Äänekoski has been designed to maximize material efficiency and minimize emissions. Its annual 1.8 terawatt hour power generation capacity requires no fossil fuels, and produces about 2.4 times more electricity than it will consume, enabling the sale of surplus energy.

Drawing of planned bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland (© Metsä Group)

Many global best practices have been designed into the mill, which will process raw wood into a variety of end products with optimal efficiency, minimal energy losses and low environmental impact. It will replace an existing mill that is already on site.

ABB is proud to supply the complete power distribution, process electrification and grid connection system solutions for this groundbreaking project, with a product list that includes a 330-megavolt ampere (MVA) generator transformer; two 100 MVA plant main transformers; and 64 dry-type transformers power rated up to 10,000 kilovolts ampere (kVA).

Owned and operated by Finnish forest-sector giant Metsä Group, the Äänekoski mill is the largest single investment ever made in the Finnish forest industry, and will have an annual production capacity of 1.3 million tons of wood pulp in addition to bioproducts such as tall oil, turpentine, biocomposites, biogas, wood-based fuel and bioelectricity.

The mill’s recovery boiler will produce enormous volumes of steam captured from operations that will help the plant generate all the biopower it needs each year, with minimal environmental impact.

Highest efficiency standards
“We are delighted to support this state-of-the-art facility with an array of ABB products and expertise, including pioneering ABB transformer solutions,” said Markus Heimbach, head of ABB’s Transformers business, a part of the company’s Power Grids division. “Our energy efficient transformers deliver high availability and reliability, and will not only help maximize the mill’s bioenergy production, but also increase the amount of renewable energy production in Finland.”

The mill’s ABB transformers meet the European Union's stringent EcoDesign efficiency standards for small, medium and large power transformers in electrical transmission, distribution and industrial applications. EcoDesign standards save energy by preventing high-loss transformers from being installed within the EU.

Key to energy savings
Efficient transformers are essential for energy savings, because one-third of the roughly nine percent of electricity losses that occur in global transmission and distribution networks are lost by transformers, largely in the form of heat.

A power transformer is typically very efficient, but industry-wide energy losses from transformers are significant due to the huge number of transformers installed – in the scores of millions – which is why environmental performance legislation is increasingly regulating transformer performance.

With a service life of 30 years or more, even marginal improvements in the energy efficiency of a power transformer will generate substantial energy savings, and is one of the biggest potential contributors to global CO2 reduction.

Efficient returns

Energy efficiency is a major driver of ABB’s transformer research and development activity. Investment in energy efficient products and systems delivers solid returns, because the value of energy saved over the lifetime of an efficient unit is significantly greater than the initial cost difference between efficient and inefficient equipment. Payback typically takes from five to 10 years, a fraction of service life.

“ABB’s high-efficiency transformer products perfectly fit into the concept of our next-generation bioproduct mill. Our aim is to lower environmental impact by using only the most highly efficient materials, which will minimize emissions and energy losses,” said Timo Merikallio, bioproduct mill’s project director.

The Äänekoski bioproducts mill is scheduled for completion during the third quarter of 2017.

ABB supplies both liquid-filled and dry-type transformer products, and services for total life cycle support, replacement parts and components. As market and technology leader in the global transformer sector, ABB delivers a broad range of robust, reliable and highly efficient power and distribution transformers, supporting customers with tailor-made solutions in many different applications.

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