Solar power will be only one of the pillars of Utajärvi's energy transformation, Source: Unsplash

Finland’s only eco-industrial area takes shape deep in countryside

Finland’s only eco-industrial area takes shape deep in countryside

The small town of Utajärvi will also have the country’s largest solar power plant

Being small doesn’t mean thinking small, and that is nicely shown by the news that Finland’s largest power plant is set to spring up in the small municipality of Utajärvi, populated by only about 2,600 residents.

The tiny town is located between North Ostrobothnia and Kainuu, but to most of the readers out there it would simply mean that it is located somewhere in the vast and sparsely populated Finnish countryside. What’s even more interesting is that despite the record-grabbing goal for the solar farm, the latter will represent only a fraction of the town’s renewable energy landscape.

In fact, the energy company Skarta has signed a deal with the municipal authorities for the implementation of the Near Energy grand project, which is meant as a hybrid production complex dedicated to renewables. It’s been described by the company as “Finland’s first eco-industrial era”.

Energy production can be key to the revival of some rural localities

Small municipalities have their own big challenges in general with their attraction and holding power, competing with big cities to survive in the future. In addition, achieving the goals of carbon neutrality causes its own challenges for municipalities working in agriculture. 

A large part of the energy consumption of rural municipalities is something that is difficult to influence. Agriculture is a business that requires energy and creates a carbon footprint. Our concept gives effective help to this problem by offering clean energy. Its hybrid model provides both immediate help and long-term help,” says Kari Tuominen, CEO of Skarta Energy.

The Near Energy project also includes a wind farm and, in the near future, a hydrogen energy production, storage and distribution station. With the Near Energy complex, renewable energy will be produced for the adjacent business and industrial area of more than 300 hectares.

The energy produced will be sufficient to cover the needs of 40,000 people, which for a town of 2,600 residents is impressive.



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