ERKC

Energy Research Knowledge Centre

Finland

Research themes and prioritisation

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Finland depends partly on imported fossil fuels because it does not have many domestic energy resources, apart from bioenergy and nuclear power. This poses a significant challenge to energy security and self-sufficiency, but the government has taken the steps needed to address these challenges.

One step is the building of strategic energy reserves. Another is diversification, so that roughly one-third of Finland’s energy comes from renewable sources, one-third from nuclear and one-third from hydrocarbons. To reduce dependence on energy imports the government has also implemented energy efficiency programmes to cut domestic energy demand. Next to energy security, decarbonisation of the economy – developing cleaner production and consumption of energy – is another pillar of Finnish energy policy. Priorities in Natural resources and sustainable economy strategic area are: Energy and raw material efficiency; Renewable energy solutions; New forest and biomass solutions; and Sustainable solutions for mineral resource use and water consumption.


Figure 1: The most important organisations in Finland’s energy infrastructure.

Organisation of research

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Finland has stable funding for R&D, strong national and regional organisations specialising in key technology areas, and active international collaboration and private-sector involvement in most aspects of the R&D process.

The Research and Innovation Council advises the government and its ministries on important matters relating to the direction, follow-up, evaluation and co-ordination of research, technology and innovation policy. The Research and Innovation Council is continuing the work of the Science and Technology Policy Council of Finland, which operated over the period 1978–2008.

The Academy of Finland’s mission is to finance high-quality scientific research in universities. The Academy of Finland is part of the Ministry of Education and cooperates with the Research Council of Norway, the Swedish Energy Agency and the Nordic Energy Research Institute as well as The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes). Tekes acts under the Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE) and finances applied research in universities and R&D projects in the company sector. The VTT Technical Research Centre provides analysis and support to MEE, Tekes and R&D services to private sector actors. The Finnish Innovation Fund, Sitra, is an independent public foundation that operates under the supervision of the Finnish parliament. Its mission is to promote the economic prosperity and future success of Finland. Finnvera is a specialist financing entity controlled by the Finnish government. It provides businesses with loans, guarantees, venture capital investment and export credit guarantees.

At regional level, national technology policy is implemented by administrative agencies known as Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. The new Strategic Centres for Science, Technology and Innovation (SHOKs) are public-private partnerships that were set up to advance RD&D in key sectors.

Programmes and budgets

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Finland is one of the most research-intensive countries in the world. Energy and climate change research is a focal area in public research funding. From 2005 there was a considerable rise in public expenditure on energy research: from around €75 million in 2005 to a peak of €270 million in 2010, decreasing slightly to €255 million in 2011. Most of the RD&D budget in 2011 was spent on energy efficiency programmes (€116 million).

Budget overview

The general orientation of Finland’s RD&D programme is laid out by Tekes and within the SHOKs. Tekes finances programmes between companies, research institutes and Finnish universities. The programmes are used to promote development in specific sectors of technology or industry, including energy, and to pass on the results of research to businesses. The funds are awarded directly to Tekes from the state budget via MEE. Both Tekes and Academy of Finland coordinate and finance Finnish participation in international technology initiatives in their respective areas. The Tekes programmes are planned in cooperation with companies, research institutes and Tekes, and launched by the Tekes Board. Each programme has a steering group, a coordinator and a desk officer within Tekes. The duration of the programmes range from three to five years, with budgets ranging from a few million up to several tens of millions of euros. Tekes usually finances about half of the programme costs, with the remainder mostly provided by the participating companies.

Table 1: The main energy research programmes in Finland.

Programmes and initiatives

BioRefine – New Biomass Products

BioRefine – Uudet biomassatuotteet

The BioRefine programme developed business related to new value-adding products, new processes and business concepts utilising biomass in a variety of forms, as well as related technologies, equipment and services. The original budget was €137 million and the final, total volume of the projects almost doubled that amount. Tekes funding was €75 million to companies and €38 million to research organisations; self-financing and company financing by research organisations added €21 million, and self-financing by companies €116 million.

EVE – Electric Vehicle Systems

EVE – Sähköisten ajoneuvojen järjestelmät

The aim of EVE is to create a community of electric vehicle and support system developers with close links to international research and business networks. The programme also focuses on developing test environments and standards for the industry. The budget is approximately €100 million.

Green Growth – Towards a Sustainable Future

Green Growth – Tie kestävään talouteen

The aim of the Green Growth programme is to identify potential new business growth areas for the sustainable economy, essentially based on lower energy consumption and sustainable use of natural resources. The programme aims to create a leap forward in the energy efficiency and material efficiency of production and service chains, over the entire lifespan of products. The budget is almost €80 million.

Sustainable Community

Kestävä yhdyskunta

The main themes of the Sustainable Community programme were land use planning, energy-efficient building and the integration of renewable energy production in the built environment. Financed projects totalled 206, with a total budget of €91 million of which Tekes financing amounted to €47 million.

Fuel Cell Technology Programme

Polttokennot

This programme aims to speed up the development and application of innovative fuel cell technologies for growing global markets. The focus areas include stationary fuel cell applications, fuel cell power modules for utility vehicles, and portable low-power solutions. The budget is €144 million.

Sustainable Energy – SusEn

Kestävä Energia

This research programme, funded and managed by the Academy of Finland, will produce new and innovative scientific knowledge about energy technology, energy systems and energy efficiency. It includes joint projects funded together with research funding organisations in 12 countries including China, Brazil and Chile. The budget is €13.2 million for the period 2008–2011.

Carbon Capture and Storage – CCSP

Hiilidioksidin talteenotto ja varastointi

The main objective of the Carbon Capture and Storage research programme (CCSP) is to achieve technological and conceptual breakthroughs in know-how, development and commercialisation of CCS for participating companies and research organisations and at the same time to build up novel collaborations between the parties. The programme is funded by a consortium of industrial and research partners and managed by CLEEN. The budget is €15 million for the period 2011–2015.

Smart Grids and Energy Markets – SGEM

Älykkäät sähköverkot ja energiamarkkinat

The aim of SGEM is to develop international smart grid solutions that can be demonstrated in real environments utilising Finnish RD&I infrastructure. At the same time, the benefits of an interactive international research environment will boost the know-how of world-leading ICT and smart grid providers. The programme is funded by a consortium of industrial and research partners and managed by CLEEN. The budget is €7.2 million for the period 2012–2014.

Efficient Energy Use – EFEU

Energian käytön tehokkuus

The main objective of the EFEU research programme is to build knowledge and competence to enable future economic growth through innovation in energy-efficient products and services. The programme is funded by a consortium of industrial and research partners and managed by CLEEN. The budget is €12 million for the period 2012–2016.

Future Combustion Engine Power Plant – FCEP

Tulevaisuuden polttomoottorivoimalaitokset

The objective of FCEP is to support the cooperation of Finnish companies and research institutes in developing their research facilities, know-how, technologies and products to meet future market requirements, which are closely connected to emissions legislations including greenhouse gas emissions. The budget is approximately €36 million (on average €9 million per year).

National govermment departments

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Ministry of Employment and the Economy (MEE)

Työ- ja elinkeinoministeriö

MEE is responsible for the operating environment underpinning entrepreneurship and innovation, securing the functioning of the labour market and workers’ employability, and regional development within the global economy. One of the issues is energy policy and its integration into the preparation and implementation of a national climate policy.

National research programme management agencies

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Strategic Centres for Science, Technology and Innovation

Strategisen huippuosaamisen keskittymät (SHOK)

These centres carry out long-term cooperative R&D, the results of which are typically breakthroughs of global importance. The results can then be transformed into growth for business and increased well-being in society. One of the Strategic Centres is CLEEN.

Cluster for Energy and the Environment – CLEEN

CLEEN Oy

The Strategic Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation of the Finnish energy and environment cluster CLEEN Ltd was established in 2008 to facilitate and coordinate world-class industry-driven research into energy and the environment. For 2012, programmes include distributed energy systems, bioenergy, material efficiency and recycling, solar energy and solar storage.

Funding organisations at national level

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Finnish Innovation Fund

Suomen itsenäisyyden juhlarahasto (Sitra)

The purpose of Sitra is to build a successful Finland for tomorrow’s world. Its activities promote new business models aimed at sustainable well-being. As a public fund, Sitra reports directly to the Finnish parliament. Sitra invests in clean energy production and energy-efficient solutions. Investments in bioenergy harvesting technology, biogas production, wave power, smart networks, digital hydraulics, industrial modular housing production and heat pump technology have accelerated the development of the sector.

Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation

Teknologian ja innovaatioiden kehittämiskeskus (Tekes)

Tekes is Finland’s most important publicly funded expert organisation for financing research, development and innovation. It supports wide-ranging innovation in research communities, industry and the service sector.

Academy of Finland

Suomen Akatemia

The Academy’s mission is to finance high-quality scientific research, act as a science and science policy expert, and strengthen the position of science and research. The Academy works to contribute to the renewal, diversification and increasing internationalisation of Finnish research. Its operation covers the full spectrum of scientific disciplines.