Permits for operation of the hydro power plants
The production of electrical energy at Holmen's wholly and partly owned hydro power stations requires a permit for water operations (rules under the Environmental Code), which includes environmental conditions. A review may be requested under the terms of the Environmental Code. Permits are held for all the power stations.
Production at wholly or partly owned hydro power plants in 2015 totalled 1 302 GWh (2014: 1 480 GWh). Hydro power is a renewable, natural and sustainable energy form and consequently meets strict environmental requirements. Hydro power stations do not have any direct impact on the environment in normal operation. The Holmen Environmental and Energy Policy is applied in the company's wholly owned hydro power plants.
Disruptions to production
There were no disruptions in 2015 that affected availability at Holmen's hydro power stations.
The new legislation introduced in 2014 has been implemented via internal controls and reporting to the relevant County Administrative Boards. Holmen Energi has begun reporting in line with the risk classifications that the County Administrative Boards have to decide on under the new legislation. Operation and maintenance projects implemented during the year and any incidents are to be reported to the County Administrative Boards in early 2016.
In 2015, Holmen Energi conducted checks and inspections in line with the energy industry guidelines for dam safety (RIDAS).
The company has insurance cover for any damage to third parties downstream of dams in a joint dam liability insurance policy for the whole of Sweden.
A leakage was discovered below a dam on the Iggesundsån river in early summer. The cause proved to be leaking through cracks in the bedrock under the dam. The leakage was stopped by injecting under the dam and down into the existing rock. The County Administrative Board's coordinator for dam safety was kept informed throughout the course of the work.
Environmental activities in 2015
The partly owned hydro power plants apply the environmental policy of the principal shareholder. Holmen Energi operates joint Water Regulation Associations with other stakeholders to deal with such matters as dam safety, water regulation and fisheries issues.
Emissions of carbon dioxide from regulated water storage reservoirs are low. There is oil in bearings and regulating systems for the machinery, and there is some risk of discharges to water. Protection and alarm systems are installed to minimise the risk of oil leaks.
Holmen employees and external contractors, which have environmental certification, operate and supervise the plants and manage hazardous waste.
In 2011, through a local initiative by landowners in the Municipality of Vindeln and a regulation reservoir collaboration group that included Holmen's Harsele power station, a project was launched to identify measures to achieve Maximum Ecological Potential (MEP) on the Umeälven river. This was in line with the EU Water Framework Directive.
Proposed measures corresponding to Good Ecological Potential, aimed at achieving environmental improvements in the Umeälven river, were not investigated.
The project has used surveys to identify measures that do not have a significant impact on power generation. The surveys involved electrofishing and inventories of bottom fauna, water plants and shoreline vegetation. Terrestrial and aquatic natural assets were also documented.
In addition, the project examined measures that do have an impact on energy generation. Impact assessments have been conducted for various scenarios of environmentally adapted flows – run-of-the-river power stations, flow control for spring floods, minimum flow to avoid zero flow, overflow into fishways, bypass channels and dry beds, and environmentally adapted water levels.
Tributaries that, under the Water Framework Directive, have not been judged to have Good Ecological Status and that have been general floating channels, were surveyed for biotopes and fish populations with the help of electrofishing. Almost 200 dams and 4000 road culverts were surveyed in the tributaries. Proposals for restoration work have been drawn up.
Over the year, in partnership with some of Sweden's other energy producers and the Swedish Board of Fisheries, Holmen implemented research and operational measures to prevent the extinction of the eel. Together with technical infrastructure company Tekniska Verken in Linköping, Holmen Energi has implemented a trap and transport initiative for migrating eels ready to spawn, transferring the eels from the Glan and Roxen lakes in Motala Ström.
Environmental activities in 2016
2016 will see dam safety, structural and health & safety measures implemented at the wholly and partly owned plants.
Holmen is a major land owner and has the potential to develop its land holdings by establishing wind farms on its own sites with good wind conditions. Wind power has low operating costs, since it does not require the purchase of fuel, and production is free of carbon dioxide.
Along with the Eurofideme 2 investment fund, in 2014 Holmen built a wind farm at Varsvik, a few kilometres from its paper mill in Hallstavik. The turbines came on stream in autumn 2014 and annual production capacity is estimated at 165 GWh. Building the wind farm cost around SEK 650 million. Production during the first full year, 2015, amounted to 164 GWh. Holmen's share is 50 per cent, i.e. 82 GWh.
The erection of wind turbines has stalled in Sweden due to poor profitability. If/when conditions improve, Holmen will be among those ready with projects that are sufficiently viable.
At Blodrotberget and Blackfjället in the Municipality of Örnsköldsvik, environmental permits were granted in 2013 for around 70 wind turbines, with annual production in the region of 500 GWh. In 2015, a power line permit was obtained for the connecting power lines, which means that the project is ready for construction to begin.
Wind surveys have also been conducted on Holmen's land in Västernorrland. Applications for environmental permits and power line permits have been submitted for two of the projects. This is the case for the Blåbergsliden project, with its 30 or so turbines and annual production of around 300 GWh. Supplements to the reindeer husbandry analysis are under way as a final measure before a decision can be made on the environmental permit. This is expected to happen in 2016. In 2015, an application was submitted to the authorities for 30 wind turbines in Blisterliden. Wind surveys and an environmental impact analysis are under way at Högaliden 2, which is similar in scale to the other projects.
An 18 per cent stake in VindIn AB gives Holmen part ownership of the Trattberget wind farm in the Municipality of Örnsköldsvik and Skutskär in the Municipality of Skutskär. Another wind farm, Svalskulla in Pohjanmaa, Finland, was also brought on stream in 2014. In total there are now 40 turbines supplying electricity to Holmen and the other stakeholder companies. Overall, VindIn's turbines are expected to produce around 305 GWh per year, with Holmen's stake currently equating to production of around 55 GWh per year. Wind power production was very good in 2015, with annual production of 317 GWh, and Holmen's share amounting to 56 GWh.
In late 2015, the environmental authorities rejected the application to erect a wind farm at the mill in Workington. The prospect of obtaining leave to appeal is judged to be poor. At the same time, the scope for profitability in wind power has radically worsened due to decisions by the British government. Under these circumstances, the project has been shelved.
Holmen's peat field outside Örnsköldsvik was taken into use in 2009 and is harvested annually for energy purposes. In contrast to 2014, 2015 had a rainy summer, which led to a poorer annual harvest, equating to 74 (93) GWh electrical energy. In 2015, Holmen Energi continued to examine the possibility of using peat as a raw material for the production of soil improvers. This work was conducted in collaboration with Holmen Skog's nurseries and the results over the year have shown that peat has considerable potential in this area.