VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has joined forces with Lappeenranta University of Technology and the Finland Futures Research Centre at the University of Turku to launch an extensive development project for an “energy system of the future,” or what the group calls “a brand new, emission-free energy system.”
The Neo-Carbon Energy project is divided into three parts: future research related to global challenges and energy systems, the development of energy systems, and the enhancement of competencies related to the development of energy storage technologies with a focus on solar and wind.
The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to achieve energy self-sufficiency are boosting the development of emission-free energy production. Germany has led the development of solar and wind power but the momentum appears to be shifting towards China and Asia. This development may well enable a genuine third energy choice alongside nuclear and fossil sources.
For Finnish trade and industry, a new energy system and its associated technologies could provide a significant opportunity in the global market.
“Solar and wind energy can provide major opportunities to create new jobs and export products for Finland,” said Pasi Vainikka, project coordinator and principal ccientist at VTT. “The purpose of the project is to develop an energy system based on the storage of energy in the form of hydrocarbons — in other words, conventional fuels.”
An emission-free energy system based on solar and wind energy is a major challenge to develop due to varying levels of supply. This kind of energy production will be divided into much smaller units than today, even with individual households acting as energy suppliers. In the future, households may play a significant role as suppliers — not only to the local grid but also to the national grid.
Besides new energy storage technologies and services, the change also requires the creation of legislation related to the energy business, energy markets and new business chains. Finnish legislation does not yet take into account the needs of new forms of energy, or their distribution and storage, including the trade in solar and wind energy generated by private citizens.
The Neo-Carbon Energy project is being funded by 5 million EUR from Tekes — the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation — for the next two years. The total project cost is 7 million EUR.