How to make Finland a carbon-neutral leader in the industrial sector?
Industrial activity is currently undergoing a massive transformation as we shift away from the fossil economy. The keyword for the future will be technology development. In the bio and circular economy, new innovations are constantly emerging, hydrogen economy is evolving, and digitalization is playing an increasingly significant role in production operations. The key is that we are able to efficiently utilize raw materials across industry boundaries.
The industrial sector plays a significant role in the fight against climate change. If we look at the numbers on a European scale, 20% of all emissions come from industry. At the EU level, we talk about a dual transition, where both the green transition and digitalization are promoted simultaneously. It is essential that digitalization is integrated into the core of business operations rather than remaining a separate entity.
However, not everything can be managed through bits and bytes; we still need “physical repositories.” Solutions like those offered by the hydrogen economy can provide these. That is why we must be willing to see the ongoing transformation as an opportunity.
Individual actions can have a significant impact
It is important to realize that the impact of individual industrial actions can be substantial. For example, if the Raahe steel mill transitions to hydrogen reduction, it could reduce about 7% of Finland’s CO2 emissions.
Encouraging examples can also be found among numerous industrial startups that are boldly shaping the future. These new challengers are essential “sparring partners” for traditional players who need to evolve their already extensive operations.
With what concrete steps can we get to a low-carbon economy?
We need wise and swift political decisions, both locally and globally, and we also need to take action on a practical level. Firstly, we must work to eliminate fossil fuels, with electrification playing a significant role. Energy efficiency should not be forgotten; it is always beneficial, especially when combined with flexibility, for example using digital solutions.
Furthermore, we must invest in the hydrogen economy. Green hydrogen is produced using renewable electricity, and Finland is planning significant renewable energy resources. Particularly, we should focus on further refining hydrogen, such as the production of green ammonia, which can be widely used in the chemical industry and as a climate-friendly fuel in maritime transport.
We need robust actions in the materials sector as well
As competition for natural fibers intensifies, we must decide where to source them or how to use them most efficiently. Therefore, forest, regional, and energy policies must be shaped collaboratively to find the best solutions. It is also essential to leverage Finland’s world-class fiber expertise in developing new innovations.
Material efficiency is crucial in the circular economy and should be developed comprehensively. The perspective should be broadened to encompass entire value chains. Developers of solutions must be willing to engage in collaboration with different stakeholders.
Particularly, we should focus on further refining hydrogen, such as the production of green ammonia, which can be widely used in the chemical industry and as a climate-friendly fuel in maritime transport.
New skill requirements are starting to emerge
It is essential to note that in the future, especially the need for chemistry and process expertise will increase as raw materials become more heterogeneous in a circular economy world. The growing share of electricity in energy production and usage will create new needs for electrical engineering expertise.
Additionally, flexibility and security issues are crucial in maintaining companies’ competitiveness. Those who can predict well will also perform well, optimizing overall resource efficiency. Transparency and traceability of value chains will also become increasingly important. We must be able to solve complex challenges, and technology provides excellent opportunities for this.
The good news is that Finland possesses a wide range of technological expertise that can be harnessed to address global challenges. Digitalization extending to different sectors of operation offers us the potential to solve future challenges much faster than before. Boldly forward, things happen only when we take action!