We have reduced our coal consumption by 73% since 2006. We are now taking the next step as we aim to phase out coal completely from our power and heat generation by 2023. We replace coal with biomass and through our sourcing, we need to ensure that the biomass is sustainable.
We are converting our power stations to generate green power and heat based on sustainable biomass instead of coal and gas. The biomass is wood pellets and wood chips, primarily made from residue products like branches and twigs, thinning trees, as well as sawdust from the furniture and sawmill industry. This has a considerable impact on our carbon footprint. We have reduced CO2 emissions from our power and heat generation by 52% since 2006, and our target is a 96% reduction by 2023 compared to 2006.
We have now defined a new target of phasing out coal completely from our production by 2023, because coal is the type of fossil energy causing the highest amount of CO2 emissions.
When replacing coal with biomass, it is essential that the biomass is sustainable. The incineration of biomass must be CO2 neutral, and biodiversity needs to be protected. That is why we introduced the Sustainable Biomass Partnership (SBP) certification scheme in 2016, developed in collaboration with other European energy companies. The SBP scheme enables us to verify that the biomass we buy meets our sustainability requirements.To get certified, the biomass producers have to comply with a number of requirements. Among these is their ability to trace the raw material back to the original source and document that it is sustainable.
Third-party auditors conduct regular control visits to check if the producers meet the requirements in, for instance, the SBP standard. It can be a challenge for producers to document the traceability of especially sawdust and other residue products from production of wood materials. Moreover, many suppliers have not been used to the requirement of documenting sustainability by means of certification:
"It's been a valuable process. The bioenergy sector has been driving the development of sustainability in the entire wood and forestry industry in the Baltics," says Raul Kirjanen, CEO of Graanul Invest, a supplier of biomass to our power stations.
"It's good to secure the sustainability documentation so nobody can be in any doubts as to whether the biomass is sustainable," he concludes. In 2017, we will continue our work to implement our sustainability requirements. Since August 2016, 61% of our sourced biomass has been certified as sustainable. In 2017, our target is that 60% of the biomass we buy during the year must continue to be certified as sustainable. By 2020, our target is 100%.