What if we all became energy producers?
Giving up fossil fuels requires demand response, energy storage and two-way energy networks.
The energy sector is undergoing a global transformation from which Finland will only emerge as a winner through bold changes and innovations. Since 2015, the Smart Energy Transition project has been seeking these out.
‘Our main task is to help decision-makers to facilitate the transition process in such a way that both the environment and the Finnish economy benefit’, explains Aalto University Professor of Practice Armi Temmes, who leads the project.
As part of this project, Aalto University and Sitra organised the Energy Transition Arena workshop series, which brought together 23 Finnish experts, persons of influence, and visionaries from different sectors of society. In the acitivity’s final report, decision-makers proposed a complete renovation of the energy sector. According to experts, Finland must definitely seek to rapidly relinquish the use of fossil fuels, and this will be possible through measures such as making greater use of demand response with both electricity and heating.
There are also unused possibilities in the storage of energy and in the increase in the small-scale production of renewable energy, as well as enhancing the bidirectionality of energy networks, allowing consumers to sell heat and electricity to the district heating and electricity networks. Strong ICT and technology expertise, extensive forest resources and the annual variations in weather conditions may offer Finland a competitive advantage.
For the heating sector, experts propose extensive electrification, and in transport the goal would be for Finland to have 750,000 cars using alternative forms of energy in 2030, which is 2.5 times higher than Finland's official target. Energy consumption in buildings could be significantly reduced through energy services and by utilising building automation.
'More and more uncertainty and economic challenges are piling up against fossil fuels. We are in the midst of an energy upheaval, whether we like it or not. To achieve success, it is essential that the changes begin today, not the day after tomorrow’, emphasises Professor Sampsa Hyysalo, who led the Energy Transition Arena.
In addition to such big decisions, small daily decisions are also very significant.
‘The normal consumer’s impact on the climate comes mostly from their homes, their food, and the way they move around. You can achieve a lot by simply thinking about how much space you really need and how you heat that space and by reducing car use and avoiding wasting food’, Temmes explains.
About Smart Energy Transition
- This research project outlines how Finland can be successful in the global energy transition.
- The project studies the factors that maintain the current energy system and the new technologies, operating methods, business opportunities and politics which are disrupting this system.
- The project has already twice received funding from the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council, which provides funding to top-level scientific projects that have social impact. The project’s impact is also increased by partners such as Heureka, who create teaching materials from the research results, and the City of Lappeenranta, which is making use of the technical progress steps in the city’s urban development.
- The project was led until the end of 2017 by Professor Raimo Lovio. From 2018 to 2020, the project will be led by Professor Armi Temmes.