Wärtsilä and Metso’s plans for a new joint venture designed to increase their presence in Europe’s growing biomass power market have been approved by the European Commission.

The joint venture – named MW Power – will combine Metso’s Heat and Power business with Wärtsilä’s Biopower business and will have annual pro forma net sales for 2008 of around EUR130 million. It will be 60 per cent owned by Metso and 40 per cent by Wärtsilä.

“Now that we have received the approvals, we can start integration planning. The long-term business drivers are positive for us,” says Jorma Lehtoviita, Vice President of Metso’s Heat and Power business.

MW Power will offer Wärtsilä’s grate technology and Metso’s fluidized bed combustion technology and hopes to capture a significant portion of the European market for medium and small power and heating plants. Its main focus will be on renewable fuel solutions.

Metso’s Heat and Power business unit consists of Noviter Oy and VEÅ AB, employing a total of 100 personnel in Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic countries. Wärtsilä Biopower supplies and manufactures biomass-fueled combined heat and power plants and heating plants. The company employs approximately 100 people in Finland.

Wärtsilä and Metso announced in September 2008 that they had signed a contract to form a joint venture. The deal is partly motivated by high fossil fuel prices and strong political support for renewable energy in Europe.