The energy revolution offers opportunities to be seized

The energy revolution aiming at a carbon neutral society is proceeding faster than expected, but what does it mean for Finnish companies? This was the topic of the webinar organised by Granlund.

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For the past weeks, the coronavirus crisis has dominated our lives but the fight against climate change and the energy revolution it requires have not disappeared from the list of the key long-term goals. This was the starting point for a webinar organised by Granlund, attracting more than 300 construction, property and energy sector decision-makers to discuss the effects of the energy revolution. “For Finnish companies, the on-going transformation is a major opportunity both in Finland and on international markets,” says Ville Reinikainen Director, Energy at Granlund. 

A giant leap to be taken in heating

Member of Parliament and the chairperson of the National Coalition Party’s parliamentary group Kai Mykkänen predicted that one of the giant leaps in the next few years will be that heating becomes nearly emission-free. “Who would have believed that wind power production could increase 20-fold in Finland in ten years and that it is clearly the most profitable form of energy without production aid?  An equivalent leap to nearly emission-free energy is possible in heating, too,” estimates Mykkänen.

According to Mykkänen, the key aspect is the reduction of fossil fuels in district heating. He does not consider increasing the use of biomass a sensible option. “The solution can be found in the fast development of heat pump technology. Their share of the heating generated will increase and their use will become more versatile.” Mykkänen believes that of renewable sources of energy, geothermal heat will be the fastest to become more commonly used in heating. It will become increasingly popular especially in renovation, such as apartment building renovation projects. “In new buildings, too, geothermal heating will be used to an increasing extent. The winners will be those companies that ride this trend,” notes Mykkänen.

Demand response will make a breakthrough

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment’s Senior Adviser Tatu Pahkala recommended better utilisation of the major energy price fluctuations. An example of “crazy days” on the market could be seen in February when the price of exchange-traded electricity momentarily decreased below last summer’s level. “The correct timing of energy consumption and production as well as demand response make it possible to capture added value,” says Pahkala.

In the demand response approach, companies and consumers can adjust their electricity consumption according to the market situation. In practice, consumption is decreased or increased by a smart system according to electricity production and price fluctuations.

Pahkala knows this topic well as he led the smart network working group set up by the ministry. However, adjusting the electricity consumption of a single company or household does not necessarily offer sufficient flexibility. According to Pahkala, one solution is energy communities, in which the members can produce part of the energy they need themselves, store energy and sell it to the market. “Energy communities are just around the corner. Properties’ own energy production will also become more common and for this we need supporting solutions.”

PtX technology will revolutionise the energy markets

LUT University’s professor in energy efficiency in electrically driven systems Jero Ahola described the big picture in the technological revolution of energy systems. A particularly interesting option is Power-to-X technologies (PtX) that allow fuels and chemicals to be produced in a carbon neutral manner. The raw materials needed are electrical energy, water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. “PtX technologies have been successfully tested in research projects. Some factory-scale experiments are about to start, too,” says Ahola. 

According to him, a revolution will take place on the world’s energy markets in the next few decades. Fossil oil and natural gas will be replaced with electricity-based fuels produced with wind and solar power, the production of which can be efficiently scaled. “Wind and sun are more evenly available on the planet than oil is. The best wind and solar power areas will be the oil fields of the future.”

The recording of the entire energy revolution webinar is available for viewing. You can access the recording here.

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