Hydrogen technology offers energy companies possibilities both to fight climate change and to create new business activities. For example, Vantaa Energy plans to produce carbon-neutral gas for use as transport fuel with the help of hydrogen.
Antti Arasto, VTT's Vice President for Industrial energy and hydrogen, observes that as climate measures for municipalities and countries become more stringent, regional electricity and heating utilities should turn to the hydrogen economy.
Vantaa Energy announced in June that it is moving ahead with plans to build a large hydrogen plant in Vantaa by 2025. The upcoming plant will use hydrogen to help produce carbon-neutral synthetic natural gas out of green electricity and carbon dioxide.
According to Arasto, this is significant news, because no industrial scale production plant for electric fuels (P2X) has been built in Finland before. With both Finland and the EU enacting tighter measures on emissions, demand for commercial applications of hydrogen technology is set to grow significantly in the coming years.
“If Finns want to take part in the market for hydrogen technology and know-how, we need to be the first on the move. We do not have massive corporations capable of buying market shares in retrospect. Instead, we need to create the new market and our business ourselves”, Arasto says.
The European Union is currently processing the extensive Fit for 55 package of legislation with the aim of reducing the EU's greenhouse emissions by 55 percent from the 1990 level by 2030. The package will open a hydrogen market worth hundreds of billions of euros to European companies.
Hydrogen can help store electricity from wind power and produce fuel
Demand for hydrogen solutions exists especially in targets that are difficult to electrify, such as the steel and metal industry and especially, the chemical industry. From the point of view of regional energy companies, it is interesting that hydrogen can help in evening out the fluctuation in the production of renewable electricity, such as wind power. With the help of hydrogen, energy can be stored and used later as electricity or heat. In addition, it can be used to produce other products, such as fuels.
“The aim of piloting designed together with VTT is to reduce risks connected with the investment project and to find the best practical solutions for an application on the industrial scale”, says Vantaa Energy Business Development Manager Matias Siponen.
For example, carbon-neutral methane will be a completely new product for Vantaa Energy, which can be sold as fuel for transport. VTT has researched hydrogen technology for a long time and is planning a shared pilot project on hydrogen technology together with Vantaa Energy to verify the functionality of the technology in a real plant environment.
“Above all, the possibility for storage offered by hydrogen will help Vantaa Energy to balance out peak heat loads and to ensure that city residents will be able to enjoy carbon-neutral district heating”, Arasto observes.