The unique Atria Sun

Strategy

The unique Atria Sun

A major solar power park has emerged in the open compost field behind Atria’s production plant in Nurmo over a short period of time. Even though the construction is still in progress, the south-facing solar panels are already producing energy for the plant.

Once completed in autumn 2018, Atria Sun will be the largest solar power park in Finland. In terms of land and roof surface, its 24,000 solar panels will cover an area the size of almost nine football fields. The panels will produce 5,600 megawatt hours of energy per year, or around 5 per cent of the Nurmo plant’s annual electricity need.

The project is unique in scale. No similar solar power plants can be found in Sweden or Norway, for example. So far, the largest systems in Finland are less than one megawatt. With Atria Sun, we are talking about nearly six megawatts. Only Denmark has a larger solar power park. 

The project is also unique in the sense that it is the first industrial-scale solar power park in Finland. The park will produce fully renewable, emission-free, domestic solar power for the nearby plant.

The solar power park project was selected as one of the key projects of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. Financial support from the ministry covers 40 per cent of the total investment, which is nearly EUR 7 million. The project could not have been implemented without this support.

According to Tapani Potka, Senior Vice President, Technical Functions at Atria, another prerequisite was a suitable field on the plant site. The large, vacant, paved area was ideal for the park.

The 15,000 solar panels on the field will be commissioned by the end of October 2017, after all of the installation work has been completed. The remaining 9,000 solar panels will be placed on roofs and lawns on the plant site in summer 2018.
– The most challenging phase will be to place the remaining panels in a way that prevents them from hindering any future projects, says Potka.

The park will produce fully renewable, emission-free, domestic solar power for the nearby plant.
 

The Atria Sun project is not only about the production of solar power. The power plant will also serve as something of a test laboratory for various technologies, methods and intelligent electricity network systems.

Rotating solar panels, which are still rare in Finland, will be tested there, to name just one example. The solar panels that have so far been installed are fixed, meaning that they do not follow the sun.

According to Potka, the solar power project has attracted a great deal of positive attention.

– We have received plenty of enquiries. The project is clearly having a positive effect on Atria’s image, says Potka.

– This is an excellent example of the fact that Finland believes in renewable energy. We are walking the walk, says Jukka Muilu, Co-Founder of Solarigo Systems, a company specialising in solar power plants.

Atria is implementing the project in cooperation with Solarigo Systems.

                                                               


Atria Sun

  • The project is being implemented by Nurmon Aurinko, which will be responsible for maintaining the plant and selling electricity to Atria.
  • The solar power park is a joint project of Solarigo Systems and Atria.
  • The cost estimate is EUR 6.8 million, with EUR 2.72 million in investment support by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. 

  • The construction of the first phase began in June 2017. The project is expected to be completed by autumn 2018.
  • A total of 24,000 solar panels will produce around 5,600 megawatt hours of energy per year, or around 5 per cent of the production plant’s annual need for energy.
  • The largest amount of solar energy will be produced during the summer months, when the plant has a considerable need for cooling.

Text: Pirjo Latva-Mantila

Photos: Timo Aalto

(This article was published in the 3/2107 issue of Atria’s personnel magazine.)

The solar power park is part of the comprehensive Atria`s Handprint -corporate responsibility development programme.