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. Permits are held for all the power stations. Based in part on the Swedish energy agreement, the new legislation that is expected to enter into force in 2018 will apply modern environmental conditions to hydro power.
Production at wholly or partly owned hydro power plants in 2017 totalled 1 048 GWh (2016: 958 GWh) which was lower than normal due to dry weather and low precipitation (production in a normal year approx. 1 110 GWh). Hydro power is a renewable, natural and sustainable energy form and consequently meets strict environmental requirements. 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 2016 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 2018. In 2017, 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. Holmen Energi has also begun reporting in line with the risk classifications the County Administrative Boards have to decide on under the new legislation.
At the end of November during the start-up of the turbine at Holmen power station, around a hundred pike-perch floated up to the surface downstream of the outlet tunnel. The fish showed clear signs that the cause of this was changes in pressure. The theory is that the pike-perch made their way into the outlet tunnel while the turbine was not operating and were then flushed out when the turbine started up. The matter has been reported to Norrköping Municipality and Östergötland County Administration Board.
Environmental activities in 2017
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 Harrsele power station, a project was launched to identify measures to achieve Maximum Ecological Potential (MEP) on the River Umeälven. This was in line with the EU Water Framework Directive.
Umeå University acted as project manager and extensive work was carried out, with broad involvement from various stakeholders in society.
The Juktå Project was initiated in 2016 as a specific continuation of this work, with Umeå University as the project manager and the River Umeälven's Water Regulation Association as the project owner. Holmen is represented in the project's steering group. The aim of the project is to devise cost-effective models that make a quantitative and qualitative contribution to raising environmental assets in dry beds with minimum flow with little or no loss of production. Various environmental measures will also be taken in the River Juktån, with later scientific follow-up.
Over the year, Holmen has worked with other major hydro power companies and the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, via Energiforsk, to conduct research and operational measures to promote the survival of the eel, an endangered species. 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 to Motala Ström.
Environmental activities in 2018
2018 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. Production in 2017, a year of light winds, totalled 147 GWh, of which Holmen's share was 50 per cent. The share of wind power in total electricity generation is continuing to increase in Sweden despite relatively low electricity and certificate prices. Holmen's strategy is to develop competitive projects that are profitable for the Group.
At Blodrotberget and Blackfjället in the municipality of Örnsköldsvik, environmental permits were granted for wind turbines in 2013. The production potential in these areas is estimated at more than 500 GWh per year. In 2015, a power line permit was obtained for the connecting power lines, which means that the project is ready for construction to begin. Due to delays in connection to the national grid, the process of applying for an extension to the environmental permit has begun.
Environmental permits were obtained at Blåbergsliden in the municipality of Skellefteå in 2016, and production potential today is estimated at around 350 GWh/year. The judgment has been appealed, and a ruling is expected in 2018.
In 2015, an application was submitted to the authorities for 30 wind turbines in Blisterliden in the municipality of Skellefteå. Decisions on an environmental permit and power line concession are expected in 2018.
An 18 per cent stake in VindIn AB gives Holmen part ownership of the wind farms of Trattberget in the municipality of Örnsköldsvik, Skutskär in the municipality of Skutskär and Svalskulla in Närpiö, Finland. In total there are now 40 turbines generating electricity for Holmen and the other stakeholder companies. Taken together, 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. In 2017, VindIn's wind farms generated a total of 271 GWh, of which Holmen's share is around 18 per cent.
Holmen's peat field outside Örnsköldsvik was taken into use in 2009 and is harvested annually for energy purposes. The average temperature during the production season 2017 was somewhat lower than usual, which had a slight limiting effect on production. Production amounted to 72 GWh, which almost equates to a normal year.