European piloting centre launched by VTT for clean energy innovations

VTT has invested €18m into a new clean energy piloting centre. Construction will begin in 2022, and the research and testing environment is expected to be complete in 2024.

Why is VTT investing in clean energy innovations?

VTT Bioruukki, established in Kivenlahti, Espoo in 2015, is a research centre where industry and the SME sector develop and commercialise their products and process concepts. VTT Bioruukki facilitates the development of different products, such as new fibre products from the forest industry.

The new piloting centre focusing on clean energy will complement the existing facilities and strengthen synergies between different sectors. The new building has about 3,000 square metres of floor space, and the design of its laboratory facilities and test equipment is based on feedback from companies and VTT’s own technology roadmaps.

Carbon neutrality in both the transportation and industrial sectors require strong investments in joint innovation and piloting by companies and research actors. VTT is specifically aiming to accelerate the creation of clean energy applications for both the use of domestics and export.

VTT intends to contribute towards this movement with digital solutions, new energy innovation research, and a testing environment that will allow companies to scale solutions to production in a more economical and expeditious.

Jussi Manninen, Executive Vice President at VTT, commented: “We will have people working on things like the interplay of traffic, households, industry, and energy production in the energy system of the future, all under one roof. To facilitate this work, we are building something unique for Europe, a testing platform for sustainable forms of energy for applying innovations in practice.

“The development of winning solutions requires close cooperation between industry, start-ups and research actors, and the piloting centre will provide a good framework for that.”

The research environment and piloting equipment will enable the development of solutions for clean and energy-efficient transport, industry and built environment.

How is the transition in energy happening in the transport industry?

Ari Aalto, Vice President of Mobility and Transport research at VTT, explained: “The energy transition in transport is happening at an accelerating pace. Electric cars are already an everyday thing, but consumers expect longer ranges and easy and fast charging. In the upcoming few years, we need innovations in battery and charging systems, but also in efficient and low-emission power solutions for heavy traffic.

“In addition to battery and hydrogen cell technologies, we also need solutions for biofuels, electric fuels, and efficient hybrid solutions. The piloting centre will offer new possibilities for experimental research, both nationally and internationally.”

Hydrogen technologies will be a critical part of the new research environment. The innovative solutions developed there will entail considerable improvements to the profitability of renewable hydrogen production and bring electrolysis technology closer to commercial applications. Thus, improving long-term test drive possibilities aims at better management of industrial applications.

Additionally, digitalisation plays a significant role in the future of a clean energy society. Renewable, weather-dependent primary energy production requires flexibility from the system. In the future, the optimisation and adjustment of the energy system will require entirely new types of solutions that can be developed and tested in VTT’s new piloting centre.

Future opportunities amid new clean energy piloting centre

Digitalising the research environment makes it possible to incorporate VTT Bioruukki into a wider network of research environments. Partners’ research environments can similarly be effectively linked to the larger unit. Digitalisation also speeds up the development time of innovations from idea to practice, reduces development costs and boosts the use of experimental infrastructure.

“With the new piloting centre, companies will have the chance to get ahead of their competitors. Industry and the SME sector will be able to develop innovations there even more efficiently and quickly. At the same time, we avoid building overlapping piloting and testing environments. We want to welcome both Finnish and international companies to develop the innovation centre with us,” concluded Manninen.

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