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new wastewater pre-treatment and biogas production plant opening

1. December 2014

Estonian Cell will opened a new wastewater pre-treatment and biogas production plant with the cost of approximately 11 million euros. As a result, the company will become the largest biogas producer and consumer in Estonia.

From now on, the company will annually substitute more than 5 million cubic metres of imported natural gas with biogas. The energy content of the biogas produced exceeds 50 GWh/year.

The investment was fully financed by the Austrian owner of the company, Heinzel Holding. Between 2012 and 2014, Heinzel Holding has invested a total of EUR 17 million in the company with the aim of increasing the efficiency of the loss-producing company and ensuring its sustainability.

According to Estonian Cell Board Member Siiri Lahe, the investment in the new biogas plant will reduce costs related to gas purchases by more than a third and serve as an important milestone in the turnaround of the company, currently running a cumulative loss of EUR 22 million. „The investment also has a positive environmental impact, reducing the ecological footprint of the pulp mill even further,“ Lahe explained.

„The pulp mill technology is already highly environmentally friendly. Wood processing takes place mechanically and the process is sulphur- and chlorine-free. The company is exploiting the best available technology and our production process is characterised by high wood yield and efficient water and energy usage,“ Board Member Lauri Raid added.

Estonian Cell’s Kunda aspen pulp mill launched production in 2006. With ca EUR 153 million, the facility boasts one of the biggest foreign greenfield investments made in Estonia over the course of the last decade. 100% of the production is exported to different countries in Europe and Asia.

The organisers of European Business Awards 2014 have nominated Estonian Cell as the Estonian National Champion in the environmental and corporate sustainability category. In addition, the aforementioned investments have earned Estonian Cell a nomination for the Foreign Investor of the Year at Estonian Entrepreneurship Awards 2014.

The new biogas plant features state-of-the-art technology, providing an innovative solution in the context of pulp production. The plant has the largest single biogas reactor in Europe. Considering also biogas plants with multiple reactors, the production volume of the new plant belongs among the top-3 in Europe. The reactor capacity is 4,300 m3 and the anaerobic digestion cycle together with the biogas production lasts 11 hours on average.

Kersti Luzkov, the company’s Environment and Quality Manager, explains the anaerobic wastewater treatment and biogas production process: „Wastewater is first treated mechanically; if necessary, neutralisation of residual peroxide and chemical removal of fine fibres takes place. Then, the organic matter is converted inside the reactor with the help of micro-organisms to produce methane and carbon dioxide.“

Estonian Cell’s 2013 sales amounted to EUR 65 million and the company produced a loss of EUR 3 million. The company employs 85 people directly and generates work for around 500 employees within its value chain.

Additional information:
Siiri Lahe
Member of the Management Board
Estonian Cell