Carbon-neutral food chain is our main goal – this is why we are expanding our solar power park and doubling our current panel capacity

26.8.2022 08:00
Carbon-neutral food chain is our main goal – this is why we are expanding our solar power park and doubling our current panel capacity

We are expanding the Atria Sun solar power plant at the Nurmo production facilities with Solarigo Systems Oy. The use of renewable energy and being self-sufficient in energy are important goals to us alongside our carbon neutrality goal.

The use of renewable zero-emission solar energy leads Atria towards a truly carbon-neutral food chain. The current expansion project almost doubles the current solar power plant’s capacity. The expansion will cover an area of some seven hectares, which is equivalent to more than nine football fields. The installation of new panels started in August, and the expansion will be ready for use during 2022. Once the expansion has been completed, Atria will have almost 60,000 m2 of solar panels.

Atria has had nothing but positive experiences with solar energy. The solar power plant expansion is a significant project in Finland’s solar power sector as a whole. The current power plant is the largest in Finland, and the expansion is one of the largest solar power plants under construction. The power plant uses bifacial panels as a new technology, which also produces energy from diffuse radiation reflected to the back of the panels. This improves the solar power plant’s efficiency rate and increases the annual energy output, compared with conventional technologies.

“Sustainability is addressed in our way of working, being part of our everyday activities. Sustainability means highly concrete actions, such as this solar power park or the wind farm we are planning. If we want to lead the way in sustainability, we cannot be at the finish line yet,” says Eero Yliselä, Vice President of Technical Functions at Atria.

More renewable energy sources

As part of its sustainability, Atria will increase the production of renewable energy for its own needs. Lakeuden Taivaanraapija Oy, a project company established in 2021, is developing a wind power project in the immediate vicinity of Atria’s production facilities in Nurmo in Seinäjoki. The aim is to build a farm of seven wind turbines in the area to produce energy, equalling the amount of electricity consumed by the production facilities in a year. The project is exceptional on the Finnish scale in that it combines wind power and solar power to cover a significant part of the production facilities’ energy consumption. The project’s planning process is in progress.

Food production is closely linked to the environment and natural resources. Atria cares about the environment and is committed to reducing environmental impacts at all stages of the food chain. The main goal is to achieve a carbon-neutral food chain by 2035. Through the use of more renewable energy sources and the increased use of bio-based fuels in heat generation, energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in industrial production have reached the target level ahead of schedule. The expansion project reduces total emissions even further and improves the Nurmo production facilities’ energy efficiency, also increasing Atria’s energy self-sufficiency.

“High and unstable energy prices have increased the significance of renewable energy projects. All such stable and easy-to-handle forms of energy are more than welcome, and increase our energy self-sufficiency,” Yliselä says.