Hydrogen: Future visions
November 2023

Hydrogen: Future visions

Wind to hydrogen

Thanks to advantageous wind conditions and constantly evolving technology, wind power has become the most cost-competitive form of electricity production in Finland, and the industry is booming. Production from the strong wind power pipeline, centred in the geographically favourable coastal and north-western parts of the country, is currently planned to reach over 63 GW onshore and 57 GW offshore in capacity. The production from the farms concretising from this development is expected to surpass the national demand and make cost-competitive feedstock readily available. This makes wind power a key factor in the country’s clean hydrogen production and serves as the main enabler of the ambition to become a major hydrogen exporter in Europe. The rapid rise of solar power with its capability to effectively balance seasonal and intra-day profiles in Nordic conditions further strengthens the renewable energy mix.

In hydrogen export-oriented scenarios, the annual wind power production is estimated to be capable of multiplying to circa 130 TWh per annum by 2035 and reaching nearly 300 TWh by 2045. From a market perspective, the interdependence of wind and hydrogen is increasingly perceived as being bidirectional: hydrogen production and other energy-intensive industries can thrive with the support of the affordable wind power, but their rise is also a key prerequisite for the demand keeping pace with supply as Finland continues to grow to a wind superpower. Full utilisation of estimated onshore potential alone is expected to call for up to 27 GW of electrolysis capacity by 2050, equal to over 130 TWh of clean hydrogen production annually. Transport as molecules is further seen as a cost-effective solution for the expected high volumes of clean hydrogen, and it allows for more expedient growth in areas where temporary local grid bottlenecks could otherwise arise.

Nordic Hydrogen for Europe

Beyond serving Finland’s transport sector and the energy intensive steel, chemical and refining industries, much of the hydrogen produced is envisaged to be exported as hydrocarbons or ammonia. At a national level, the scenarios portray electrolyser potential reaching 8 GW in 2030 and multiplying to 35 GW by 2040, with well over half of the total 125 TWh of clean hydrogen produced being available for export, primarily in a further processed form.

Regionally, the European Hydrogen Backbone Initiative (EHB) estimates that the supply potential for hydrogen originating in the Nordics and Baltics could reach a total of 185 TWh as early as 2030 and grow to circa 500 TWh by 2040. Most of the supply is expected to be dedicated to clean hydrogen, complemented by grid-based hydrogen powered largely by affordable Scandinavian hydropower.

Hydrogen infrastructure

To realise its hydrogen potential in full, Finland is making significant efforts to create a hydrogen infrastructure. To kickstart pipeline development, the Finnish gas transmission system operator Gasgrid has been given a mandate to establish a national hydrogen network. This includes the construction of a joint pipeline with Sweden (the "Nordic Hydrogen Route"), through which clean hydrogen will be transported on a large scale from areas with high wind power production to industrial customers. The pipeline is planned to be operational by 2030.

Plans to further extend the national network to serve prospective hydrogen valleys in South/Southeast Finland and in Southwest Finland/Satakunta have been published, envisioned to form the Finnish branch of the connection that would reach through the Baltic countries all the way to Poland and Germany (the “Nordic-Baltic Hydrogen Corridor”). On a cross-border level, the TSO-led pre-study for the project is underway with results expected still during 2023.

Concrete steps for another subsea interconnector in the northern Baltic Sea are also underway in the form of a Nordic collaboration between gas TSOs and industry operators that investigates a large-scale, cross-border collection and transportation infrastructure for clean hydrogen (the “Baltic Sea Hydrogen Collector”). This connection from Åland, mainland Finland and Sweden to the German and other Central-European demand markets is planned to be in place by 2030. All three routes are part of the European Hydrogen Backbone Initiative.