Global expectations for hydrogen are currently sky-high. Transport
applications stand at the threshold of commercialisation, while ahead lies an
investment boom in the hydrogen distribution network. The changeover to
hydrogen based on natural gas would already mean a potential saving of billion
in Finland's balance of payments. If hydrogen could then be produced from
domestic renewable raw material, our car and bus traffic would eventually be
practically self-sufficient and leave a significantly reduced carbon
footprint. The above was revealed in the Finnish hydrogen roadmap published
The Finnish hydrogen roadmap, compiled by VTT Technical Research Centre of
Finland and partly funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and
Innovation (Tekes), assesses the export opportunities that can be available to
Finnish businesses through international development. The report envisages the
kind of energy-, climate- and industrial-political opportunities offered to
Finland through widespread adoption of hydrogen energy, and presents realistic
recommendations for gaining access to them.
Hydrogen transport fuel also competitive on price
The global car industry is the driver of development in hydrogen energy
technology, having confirmed the arrival of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the
consumer markets by 2015.
Finland's expertise in biofuel refinement and efficient biofuel industry are
also significant globally. Hydrogen can be produced from forestry biomass
highly effectively using processes based on fluidised bed gasification and
reforming. By-product hydrogen generated by the chemical industry and hydrogen
production integrated with other production are already a practical
”VTT's research indicates that gasification of timber harvest debris produces
hydrogen with greater efficiency than it does diesel. For the time being,
however, the cheapest hydrogen is obtained through reforming natural gas. This
also reduces emissions, as greater mileage is obtained with hydrogen reformed
from natural gas than with pure natural gas. Another advantage with hydrogen
vehicles is that they don't produce oxides of nitrogen or any other
particulate emissions, just water,” says Project Manager and Principal
Scientist Jussi Solin of VTT.
The changeover of car and bus transport to electric power has already begun,
offering notable efficiency benefits compared to the internal combustion
engine. Replacing the big battery in an electric car with a 5 kg hydrogen tank
and fuel cell enables a range of more than 500 kilometres .of winter driving
and refuelling in 5 minutes.
The roadmap recommends Finland's preparing for the market arrival of vehicles
powered by fuel cells by procuring cars and buses of this type for trial
purposes. Such trials should be linked to the development, testing and
marketing of hydrogen refuelling stations, other export products, and
Hydrogen demands special technology and expertise in materials
Finland is already prepared for the construction of hydrogen refuelling
stations through gas company Woikoski Oy, which this year has set the ball
rolling by using its own innovative technology to bring an exportable hydrogen
refuelling station to Vuosaari in Helsinki.
”We are now investing at record levels and are fully focused on hydrogen. Last
winter we supplied hydrogen for Arctic trials in Lapland, and in Hanover at
the beginning of the week published the refuelling station concept now
undergoing trials at Voikoski,” says Managing Director Kalevi Korjala.
Mr Korjala hopes the Finnish pilot will support export drives and the efforts
of technology growth enterprises to develop the demanding components and
Hydrogen use in energy and transport reveals considerable benefits in reducing
carbon dioxide and other environmental emissions, replacing imported fuels
with domestic renewable energy, and in maintenance support performance,
regional employment and cleantech development.
Using hydrogen produced by electrolysis to store electricity enables growth of
the share of renewable energy and its connection to the electricity network.
An electrolysis plant managed according to electricity price fluctuations can
be made profitable.
For Finland the question is not only one of energy, but of processes,
materials, equipment and the manufacture of components. In other words, of
building the export products that will be needed for the future hydrogen