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This week Wärtsilä Finland, together with energy companies Vaasan Sähkö and EPV Energia and the City of Vaasa have signed a letter of intent to cooperate in a project aimed at utilising emissions-free hydrogen in power generation, industry and traffic applications. The project will be based in Vaasa and will focus on enabling a new way to store renewable energy. At the same time, the intention is to pilot a hydrogen-based energy generation solution suitable for export markets. It is thought that hydrogen can play a significant role in reaching global climate goals. Using electricity from renewable sources, hydrogen can be produced without emissions.
The goal of the four parties is to jointly build a so-called Power-to-X-to-Power system in Vaasa. The system will use renewable energy to produce hydrogen to be stored and reprocessed. The stored hydrogen can be utilised both in energy production and traffic applications. Electricity generated from renewable energy sources is used as raw material to separate hydrogen from water by electrolysis, and the hydrogen will be then further processed to produce electricity. The solution is not limited to the use of hydrogen – the letter X refers also to other fuels, such as synthetic methane, methanol and ammonia. Energy production would take place in an engine power plant developed by Wärtsilä, using the latest technology.
“Hydrogen and other Power-to-X -fuels will have a significant role in the future energy system and the new related technology opens up excellent export opportunities for Finnish companies. During recent years, we at Wärtsilä have researched synthetic fuels and invested in technology related to these and other future fuels. It is part of our vision for the future whereby electricity is produced from 100% renewable energy. It is great that this project has attracted such remarkable project partners, and through close cooperation we can further accelerate the development towards a cleaner world. The ecosystem around this project represents a concrete demonstration of how Wärtsilä’s new Smart Technology Hub under construction in Vaasa will create new opportunities and build cooperation,” says Matti Rautkivi, Director, New Business, Wärtsilä Energy.
The diversity of the solution is illustrated by its opportunities for reducing emissions in several sectors. It also solves the storage problem for renewable energy, which is known to be dependent on the weather.
“The solution offers a new kind of emissions-free flexibility to the energy system, which is increasingly based on renewable energy sources. At the same time, the system marks one step more towards more efficient and CO2 neutral energy production. Both viewpoints are extremely important to us,” says Hans-Alexander Öst, Development Director at Vaasan Sähkö.
By producing and storing hydrogen, any excess over-production of renewable energy can be utilised.
“EPV has already invested significantly in wind power and will continue to do so in the future. When wind power production exceeds demand, we need to store the electricity for later use at a convenient point of time. Hydrogen is seen as an excellent storage solution for renewable electricity in the future. We want to be contributing to developing this solution as a part of emissions-free heat and power generation. The aim is to integrate the heat generated in the production of hydrogen and energy into the existing rock cave heat storage. At the same time, we will maximize the total efficiency of the system,” says Niko Paaso, Director at EPV Energia.
Digitalisation will be used wherever possible in optimising the outcome. The current combined heat and power generation plant in the Vaasa region provides excellent locational support for this venture. The hydrogen, electricity, and heat production equipment, as well as the hydrogen storage, will be located in the grounds of the Vaskiluoto power plant. In the future it will be possible to increase the hydrogen production and storage capacity.
The venture supports the parties’ objectives to be CO2 neutral during this decade. It also provides a new export opportunity for energy solutions, and is easily applicable even on a global scale.
“It is important that the City of Vaasa is involved in promoting the goals of local companies to develop emissions-free and clean energy solutions. This venture is an excellent example of the strength of regional cooperation and concrete innovations aimed at combatting climate change. The stored hydrogen can be used, for example, as fuel in public transport, which reduces road traffic emissions and contributes to the city’s CO2 neutrality target,” says Tomas Häyry, Vaasa city manager.
During 2021, the venture parties aim to follow-up on funding possibilities, and to reach the final agreement for starting the project.