Last time I had the honour of writing a column in Helsinki Times I described the Nordic Energy Capital - Vaasa - which is also my hometown. This was in the beginning of August 2017. Since that a lot has happened. One major investment now under physical construction is the 200 MEUR Wärtsilä Smart Technology Hub which lets people from around the globe take part in creating innovations that enable sustainable societies. Besides being a place for state-of-the-art production, the Hub is also a place for top-notch research, development and engineering.
Despite covid-19 and some very sad news about jobs lost due to large paper mills closing and restructuring of refining operations, the activities in Vaasa show that lots of positive things are happening in Finland as well. In fact, the main 7-10 companies within the field of energy technology are investing at least 1,2 billion of euros in the Vaasa region in the coming years. A long list of interesting business driven projects involving also the public sector, universities and research institutions are ongoing - and there is much more to come.
Last month Kvarken Link, owned by the City of Vaasa and the Municipality of Umeå, launched the world's most environmentally friendly (LNG,LBG,Batteries) cargo and passenger ferry - Aurora Botnia - at the shipyard in Rauma (RMC). Another project with 100+ partners and stakeholders, both public and private, is the FAIR-project managed by the Kvarken Council and launched in Vaasa last week. FAIR stands for Finding Innovations to Accelerate the Implementation of electric Regional aviation, and the main objective is to develop efficient business models to support an early commercialization of EA and a realization of identified societal benefits.
Vaasa - the Nordic Energy Capital - is also an excellent location for battery manufacturing due to its unique combination of natural resources, low-cost green energy, world-class expertise and attractive business environment. In Vaasa and Finland, there is a significant industry for work machinery and electric vehicles, energy storage and future grids, marine and consumer applications - as well as notable know-how in recycling.
As all main global trends from climate change to digitalization and urbanization involve energy technology, huge efforts are made around the world to boost R&D spending in new innovative energy technologies. The approach in Vaasa is different and unique: it is based on system level energy simulation for countries. There is no single company in the world that can solve challenges on country level but a system level approach involving a cluster of dedicated world leading companies can make the difference together in R&D. At the end of the day, it is all about reaching the Paris Climate targets in advance and making the planet an even better place for coming generations. The Nordic Energy Capital Vaasa is ready. Are you?
Jan Joakim Strand is a Finnish politician currently serving in the Parliament of Finland for the Swedish People's Party of Finland representing the Vaasa constituency. He is also the Chairman of Vaasa City Council.
This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of The Finnish Parliament contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times.
The articles will be published in order of arrival.