In mid-December a Finnish delegation, led by Finnopool New Market Development, visited Sioux Lookout. The visit centered on discussion of opportunities to diversify the local energy market to address the absence of natural gas to service commercial, industrial and potentially residential users, and energy efficient technologies appropriate for the area.
Finland has reinvented itself in just one short century which has boosted them to the top of all kinds of country rankings: a forerunner in bioenergy and a true innovator in waste-to-energy. Finland is Europe’s most heavily forested country with 86% of its land area covered by forest. The lack of any oil and natural gas resources combined with a harsh northern climate, long distances and the structure of the forest industry were the key drivers to Finland becoming a global leader in the utilization of wood-based biomass for energy production.
“We have proven technologies both for community heating and wood supply and are willing to work with stakeholders in the Sioux Lookout region to bring in the expertise and experiences we have. Good biomass resources, skillful and motivated people as well as suitable infrastructure are making Sioux Lookout and Lac Seul one of the best places for successful and trailblazing piloting of green energy for northern towns and communities,” stated Dr. Lauri Sikanen.
Chief Bull responded, “As managers of the Lac Seul Forest, our community is constantly exploring methods and technologies that will compliment forestry activities. The Finnish people have been using their forest resources to greater overall benefit. We want to ensure we are receiving the greatest benefits from the resources we manage. The Finnish people have available technologies to assist us in this process.”
Sioux Lookout wants to benefit from Finland’s Artic know-how and innovative solutions. In Ontario, bioenergy is starting to receive more consideration and many are actively trying to demonstrate how bioenergy should and can be part of provincial efforts to address climate change.
Mayor Doug Lawrance said of the visit, “It was very enlightening to listen to the advances made by Finland in the use of biomass and waste products for energy and heat production. In communities such as Sioux Lookout and Lac Seul, which have no natural gas but a lot of biomass close at hand, there are exciting possibilities with the Finnish expertise. We look forward to exploring specific opportunities and hopefully a demonstration project in the near future.”
“The Finnish delegation found many fascinating opportunities in Sioux Lookout and Lac Seul and appreciated the great hospitality and good forward looking discussions. Both places are strongly developing and it is important to make right decisions now to enable long lasting sustainable growth,” concluded Ari Elo, President and CEO of Finnopool.