Environmental campaign: ”Alva’s ’green heat’ is greenwashing”

Press Release 29.5.2024

Ei polteta tulevaisuutta (Let’s not burn our future) -campaign took photos of energy wood terminals in Central Finland in May. The campaign considers the observations made at the Alva terminals in Muurame to be particularly alarming from an environmental point of view.

Ei polteta tulevaisuutta -campaign continued the mapping and filming of energy wood terminals and bioenergy plants, which it started last year, in May 2024 at new locations in Central Finland and Pirkanmaa.

According to campaign coordinator Varpu Sairinen, the purpose of the filming trips is to find out what kind of wood is being burned in Finnish bioenergy plants and to what extent bioenergy companies’ claims about their environmental responsibility correspond to reality.

”Energy companies and their lobbying organizations claim that bioenergy is mainly or even only produced by using residues and side streams of the forest industry, for example sawdust, bark, recycled wood and other wood unsuitable for other industries. Energy companies also often advertise bioenergy as a carbon-neutral or even emission-free option,” Sairinen explains.

”These really should have been left in the forest”

Sairinen and the experts used by the campaign consider the two Alva energy wood terminals, which are located close to each other in Muurame, to be the most alarming.

The campaign showed pictures to, among others, Heikki Susiluoma, who is active in the association of the Jyväskylä region of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC). He finds Muurame’s pictures shocking, especially the fact how many thick trunks of deciduous trees, such as aspen, are in the piles of wood. Aspen is an important tree in terms of biodiversity, which according to the forest industry’s own rules should not be felled.

”Robust deciduous trees and decaying wood are vital for hole nesters, such as the willow tit, whose numbers have decreased significantly in recent years due to overcutting. The energy use of such trees should be unequivocally prohibited. It would be just as fair to burn a house against the will of the resident and give them a tent instead,” says Susiluoma, who describes himself as a nature lover.

In Muurame the campaigners were also accompanied by a forest management teacher who, for professional reasons, does not want his name made public. The teacher agreed with Susiluoma about the thick aspen trunks he found in the wood piles: ”These really should have been left in the forest.” The teacher was also surprised by the rotting wood found in the same piles, which is also important for the diversity of forests.

”The piles contain vertical dry spruce, which, judging by the marks, has been the target of some beetle. The trunks are so dry and twisted that the damage can not be from last summer. The question arises why these had to be cut down. These are good nesting trees, but not industrially suitable for anything other than burning. Some of the trees show a root dwarf. It is often difficult to detect tree decay fungi before the tree is felled, but you could start to read smaller signs if you find several trees in a row that have been rotten by the tree decay fungi,” said the forest management teacher while examining Muurame’s terminals.

Wood’s CO2 emissions are even higher than coal

What was been seen in Muurame and other filming locations of the campaign is in blatant contradiction with the environmental claims of the energy companies according to Varpu Sairinen. In her opinion, the marketing of wood as an environmentally friendly energy solution is ”pure greenwashing”.

”For example, on its website, Alva markets its Green energy product as a ’climate action for nature and the future’ and as a ’carbon neutral’ product that ’immediately drops carbon dioxide emissions to zero’. This is not true if we believe, for example, the climate panel IPCC, according to which wood has even higher carbon dioxide emissions than coal,” says Sairinen.

”Finland’s forests have turned from a sink of greenhouse emissions into a source, and more and more species are endangered, thanks to excessive logging. Classifying wood as renewable energy is misleading, as it can take even hundred years to regenerate. We don’t have that much time, because the climate crisis and the biodiversity loss are happening now. Finland will not reach its carbon-neutral goal and cannot guarantee a healthy living environment for its inhabitants if we continue to cut down and burn our forests at the current rate,” says Sairinen.

During the trips a couple of weeks ago, pictures were taken at two Alva energy wood terminals in Muurame (Muurame 1 ja Muurame 2), at the Alva Keljonlahti power plant in Jyväskylä, at Kosken Megawatti’s energy wood terminals in Konnevesi and in Jyväskylä, at the Laania energy wood terminal in Tampere and at a UPM logging site in Mänttä-Vilppula.

More information:

Varpu Sairinen

Campaign Coordinator, Ei polteta tulevaisuutta

+358-400 907 133


Jaakko Kilpeläinen

Press Officer, Ei polteta tulevaisuutta

+358-44 301 2007


Pictures and information of the locations: https://eipoltetatulevaisuutta.fi/mita-suomessa-poltetaan-energiaksi/ 

More pictures that are free to publish by media: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1zBc9qjgWaSWU_7hBj9TnTy6uJ-acEpqA 

(creditations of the pictures for Ei polteta tulevaisuutta -campaign)
Campaing website: https://eipoltetatulevaisuutta.fi