NIHAK and City of Haapajärvi pave way for bio-industry investments

NIHAK and the City of Haapajärvi have been working together for several years to build a suitable operating environment for the bio-industry. The City of Haapajärvi is seeking companies that produce materials like bio-oil, bio-coal, or wood preservatives refined through their production process. Felling and harvesting residues or sawmill by-products can be used as raw materials.

Observation picture: Halla industrial area

Jouni Niskanen, Project Manager at NIHAK, says that the location of Haapajärvi offers clear advantages, as significant amounts of logs and pulpwood pass through it, along with increasing amounts of energy wood and logging residues.

“We’ve done the groundwork to offer tangible solutions for companies and investors, that is, we’ve developed the basic prerequisites for processing operations. Investment decisions will require that we plan suitable areas and have an environmental impact assessment process for different production options. These are now underway.”

Next year, the City of Haapajärvi will build a bioenergy terminal in the Halla industrial area, which also houses the newly completed Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency’s log terminal. There is an immediate need for a bioenergy terminal, but it will also benefit future investments based on forest biomass.

Metsä Group has also invested in a truck scale in the terminal area. What also adds to the synergy is that Haapajärvi has had a sawmill for over a hundred years, and the sawmill company Ha-Sa Oy is a modern company that invests in developing its production.

Observation picture: highway 27, connection to Hallan area

Various options for processing

The City of Haapajärvi has started zoning the Halla industrial area and plans a zoning change in the Ouluntie industrial area, which will also enable the processing of liquid bioproducts. An environmental impact assessment is ongoing in both industrial areas.

According to Niskanen, the assessment aims to consider a wide range of alternatives to wood biomass processing. Investors and technology developers are also encouraged to share their thoughts on the most interesting ways forward.

“We’re cooperating with multiple commercial operators who are working on their own plans and monitoring market trends. The green transition is a fact, but the bioproduct markets are only just emerging, and doing so robustly. Wind power is a good example of a breakthrough. It’s only in the last decade that wind power technology has matured and become extremely successful on the market,” says Niskanen.

Raw wood terminal of Finnish Transport infrastructure agency, which was comissioned in October in Haapajärvi.

NIHAK actively promotes investments

NIHAK is currently in the final stages of a project that has carried out a feasibility study for a plant in the area. This study has identified interested companies and business networks in cooperation with the local sawmill industry and energy production.

“For example, the production of bio-oil and the further processing of liquids would open up opportunities for a wide range of business activities, and companies that are located close to each other can also benefit each other,” says Niskanen.

The studies and collaboration in Haapajärvi are an example of NIHAK’s active role in the region. Niskanen notes that NIHAK’s mission is to promote investments in the region and also help projects selected for investment.

“We can be of practical help in carrying out projects and also provide services available in the area. Whenever a major investment project takes off, NIHAK always tries to be proactive and brings in local companies to offer their expertise.

At Haapajärvi, we’re now monitoring how the work we’ve done so far is producing results. Mayor Juha Uusivirta says that the city considers NIHAK to have done a great job creating the operating conditions for production facilities.

“NIHAK plays a significant role in getting projects off the ground and running competently in the area. For the city, it’s very important to be involved in regional cooperation through projects and, as a result, gain project expertise here.”

Regional economic impact of forests in the NIHAK region

– More than 6,600 private persons are forest owners
– More than 60 logging companies
– More than 70 transport companies
– More than 30 wood processing and forest service companies

The project carried out by NIHAK, “A feasibility study of the Haapajärvi bio-oil refinery and study of the processing possibilities for environmentally friendly wood preservatives,” is funded by the Council of Oulu Region and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023.

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