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Sustainabilityleader Katja Virkkunen leans to a tree.
Katja Virkkunen, head of sustainability, is leaning to a tree and smiling.

Developing the energy system of the future together

At Oulun Energia group, acting responsibly and ensuring sustainability means being committed to strengthening regional vitality, taking care of own employees as well as working to benefit the people of the region as a whole, and helping to solve the environmental problems the world is currently facing. Our efforts in these areas are based on continuous improvement and development, and we set ambitious targets for our work.

Because Oulun Energia is an energy company, it is as clear as day that combating harm to the climate and the environment overall must be at the top of our agenda. As part of this, we are determined to succeed in fulfilling our business strategy of making Oulun Energia’s operations carbon-neutral by 2030.

We aim to reduce our environmentally harmful emissions from production by switching to carbon-neutral energy sources and continuously developing new alternatives. We are working continuously to make this transition throughout our organisation, from energy production to sales and business development. By the end of 2021, 71 per cent of all the energy Oulun Energia produces is carbon neutral.

New opportunities through the circular economy

One of our most important decisions is to phase out the burning of peat, as it is fossil-based energy source. We plan to achieve this by 2024 at the latest. Peat has played a major role in the history of the region as a source of employment and security of supply. However, the harmful climate impact of peat is so great and its cost in the European Union’s emissions trading system has risen so high that Oulun Energia can no longer continue to use it.

So far, we have mainly replaced peat with Finnish-sourced fuel wood and circular economy fuel. Our new circular economy company, Syklo, is a concrete example of how we are developing a new kind of business based on the circular economy and carbon-neutral energy.

Our Rusko sorting plant in Oulu already processes 100,000 tonnes of waste per year. The plant separates raw materials suitable for recycling and solid recovered fuels (SRF) from the waste. Cyclone aims to triple the recycling rate of waste by 2025 and reduce 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

Future energy sources without combustion

Our challenge for the future is to find and develop non-combustible energy sources. We promote this not only in our various teams at Oulun Energia, but also in cooperation with companies in the area, the City of Oulu and various stakeholders.

The district heating network will play a key role in the green transition, as it can be fed with different heat sources, such as waste heat from shops and geothermal energy. The possibilities are many, since in the Oulu region alone industrial processes generate waste heat that could produce up to 10% of the region’s district heating. In addition to exploring and piloting different options, our role is to select the most effective and cost-efficient energy sources that are to be made available.

Reasonable price, high security of supply

We have managed to keep the price of district heat in Oulu the lowest in all the larger cities and towns in Finland. On the positive side, responsible and sustainable energy production goes hand in hand with reasonable prices.

As a company owned by the City of Oulu, Oulun Energia will continue to do its best to keep energy prices affordable. This is highly important to us, because the price of district heat affects the prosperity and competitiveness of the whole region.

Another important issue for regional vitality is the security of electricity supply. We work to ensure that it is safe for businesses to operate in the Oulu region, and that disruptions to electricity transmission will not disrupt the daily lives of people or businesses in Oulu. For years, Oulun Energia Sähköverkko Oy has managed to maintain a high level of security of electricity supply by systematically implementing various investment and maintenance programmes. Oulu’s electricity transmission prices are also among the lowest in Finland.

No one left behind

At Oulun Energia, acting responsibly also extends to people: it is equally important to us to promote the wellbeing of the people in the region and our employees. After all, we cannot continue to make our operations more and more responsible without continuously engaged and skilled staff. Oulun Energia cares about every employee and we are committed to their wellbeing.

We have also focused on making our working culture more open and inclusive, and on developing our work practices by means such as introducing a hybrid working model that staff have helped to create.

It is important to us that Oulun Energia continue to be workplace that is welcoming for many different kinds of people. We are continuously looking for new ways to diversify the work community and promote increase equality and fairness. We also plan to conduct an equality survey for all Oulun Energia staff. 

Being a responsible company makes it possible for us to implement Oulun Energia’s strategy, and is essential to keeping the company’s operations on a sound footing. Responsible business requires non-stop effort at every level – in all the decisions we all make, every day. Because of this, our entire staff deserve credit for Oulun Energia’s successes in being a responsible company.

Katja Virkkunen
Director, Sustainability and Human Resources
Oulun Energia