Future Cleantech Solutions-projektet har genomfört en analys av hur regionens små och medelstora företag kan bli en del av den förväntade vätgasekonomin i framtiden. Analysen är gjord i samarbete med H2 Ecosystem Roadmap for Ostrobotnia-projektet, som samlar Österbottniska aktörer kring vätgas temat för att identifiera nya samarbetsmöjligheter och utveckla det lokala ekosystemet.

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During the Science Carnival (Vetenskapskarnevalen i Vasa – Vaasan tiedekarnevaalit), arranged in Vaasa 19-20.11.2021, a panel discussion about green hydrogen economy from an open innovation ecosystem perspective was hosted by the project co-leader Kaisa Penttilä. The panel consisted of Minna Näsman representing the National Hydrogen Network (Kansallinen Vetyverkosto), Hannu Makkonen, Professor in marketing at the University of Vaasa and Kenneth Widell, Senior Project Manager from Wärtsilä. The discussion was recorded and is now published online in a podcast format (in Finnish).

Kaisa Penttilä, Minna Näsman, Hannu Makkonen and Kenneth Widell

The discussion started with a brief background on why open innovation ecosystems could be considered important for the development of a hydrogen economy.

Professor Hannu Makkonen explained how the world is moving from closed systems to organisations that are increasingly dependent on the knowledge and resources of multiple actors. The open innovation ecosystem research explores how new types relationships and system dynamics are shaped when different actors bring together complementary resources to foster new ideas. These actors can be companies, start-ups, non-profit organizations, cities and municipalities etc.

“We are talking about a completely different logic of operating. Chief executives, finance departments, lawyers, and personnel need to think the whole product and service process anew.”

Kenneth Widell, Senior Project Manager at Wärtisilä explained the importance of open innovation ecosystems from their point of view and from a more local perspective:

“Wärtsilä is a part of bigger global value chains - and sharing relevant information increase value for involved actors and make the value chain work smoother. An increased understanding between the actors is essential, since you can achieve a better outcome compared to acting on your own. However, since sharing risks and returns can be difficult, it is important to create an atmosphere of openness and trust. Together we can reach further than any one of us alone.”

Minna Näsman elaborated more on how open innovation ecosystems could be used on a national level.

“When people gather and discuss, the degree of total competence is increased, which constitute a benefit for all participants. Furthermore, as these people meet and share their experiences, trust is created during the process. As complexity increases, we do not have a clear picture of who the actors are and what their role is in the value chain. In the future we are moving further away from situations where someone dictates to you what you should produce and how. Instead, it is important tap into the innate motivation of different actors to provide solutions to challenges that they feel passionate about.”

From a point of view of building ecosystems around green hydrogen Widell also explained why it is important to take part in discussions with other actors from early on:

“In these discussions you can identify possibilities in the value chain, how markets are developing and be able to identify your own role in the transition towards a more sustainable solution. Of course, also sometimes you see that you may not fit in a specific value chain. Therefore, you need to consider whether you could add and capture value from an innovation project or not.”

In order for companies and other actors in the region to find out what the possibilities related to the hydrogen economy could be for them, Kaisa Penttilä invited interested actors to take part in the activities arranged by the H2 Ecosystem Roadmap project and start exploring collaboration opportunities for pilot and demonstration projects that could be set up in the Ostrobothnia region.

“The ecosystem will only be built by joining forces and working together towards a common mission with a multitude of different actors, including companies, municipalities and the education sector. “

The Science Carnival was a two-day event organized by the Swedish Literary Society in Finland, Universities, and Universities of Applied Sciences in Vaasa, City of Vaasa and the newspapers Vasabladet and Österbottens Tidning.

The entire podcast is available here.

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The national hydrogen network visited Vaasa and the Vaasa region the 11th of November 2021. The program included i.a. a hydrogen seminar arranged in Hanken´s auditorium, organized by Vaasa Region Development Company VASEK and the H2 Ecosystem Roadmap project. The discussion after the presentations was lively and a lot of new contacts were made. The whole day clearly brought all positive aspects of networking.

Juha Alopaeus (i the picture above) from Hitachi Energy presented for instance a solution in form of a hydrogen tank that would be located next to windmill parks. These in turn, could supply vehicles with hydrogen as a fuel instead of diesel, and thus be better for the environment.

Olli-Pekka Aalto (in the picture above) from Danfoss talked about the company's ongoing hydrogen project and how the hydrogen market will continue to grow. In the near future, the capacity of their projects is expected to grow so fast that projects of 250 MW and gigawatts will be introduced. Aalto also emphasized that a lot of product development is required to keep up with this growing market.

Kaisa Penttilä and Joakim Berg

Joakim Berg from Wasagroup presented the company's vision of emission-free buildings and transport. Buildings are crucial for the environmental changes as they stand for more than 35 percent of all CO2-emissions. Wasagroup is planning a first pilot project for a container-based hydrogen system that could be scaled up based on the size of the building. Berg believes that regulations regarding hydrogen storage and its size can cause challenges as the project proceeds.

Berndt Schalin (in the picture above) from Flexens talked about the plans for electrifying the mobility on Åland Islands. For example, archipelago ferries running on hydrogen would be useful if the journey takes more than one hour. However, if the journey would take more than three to four hours, the hydrogen tanks on board would be too heavy.

In the end of the seminar, Kaisa Penttilä, one of the project co-leaders for the H2 Ecosystem Roadmap project, started a discussion about how we could work together to promote the development of the hydrogen economy, the region's green transition and carbon neutrality goals. The discussion that arose about the challenges and opportunities of the ecosystem became lively.

Regulation and licensing issues were emphasized during the discussion. For permits to work effectively and fairly, both in terms of area and land use planning, it is important that civil servants participate in a sufficiently early stage of the process. Sharing knowledge was also considered important to eliminate misunderstandings.

The next hydrogen-related workshop will take place in the end of January or in the beginning of February 2022. Stay updated by visiting this website.

Text: Johanna Hietikko-Koljonen, VASEK

Translation: Emma Buss, H2 Ecosystem Roadmap

Photos: Emma Buss, H2 Ecosystem Roadmap

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