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. This makes wind a key factor in the country’s significant potential for green hydrogen production and the main enabler of its ambition to become a major hydrogen exporter in Europe. The European Hydrogen Backbone Initiative (EHB) estimates that the supply potential for hydrogen originating in the Nordics and Baltics can 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 green hydrogen, complemented by grid-based hydrogen powered largely by affordable Scandinavian hydropower.
Finland hosts an expanding project pipeline of onshore and offshore wind power, currently reaching over 65 GW in planned capacity. Of this, 13 GW is offshore and the rest onshore. Major projects are concentrated in the geographically favourable coastal and north-western parts of the country. In hydrogen export -oriented scenarios, the annual wind power production is estimated capable of multiplying to circa 130 TWh per annum by 2035 and reaching nearly 300 TWh by 2045.
At the national level, full utilisation of estimated onshore potential alone is expected to call for up to 27 GW of electrolysis capacity by 2050, equalling over 130 TWh of green hydrogen production annually. Much of this hydrogen is envisaged to be exported or to serve Finland’s transport sector as e-fuel and as direct feedstock for heavy road transport. One Nordic particularity is the vast additional demand potential in decarbonising the countries’ energy intensive steel and chemical industries and oil and biofuel refining sectors. Wind-based hydrogen is visioned as cornerstone for recasting and creating domestic green industries. Businesses have seized the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon and are engaging in ground-breaking industry-led research into i.a. hydrogen engines and hydrogen-reduced iron.
To exploit 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 green 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.
Further plans to extend the national network with Nordic Hydrogen Routes 2 and 3 to serve two prospective hydrogen valleys in South/Southeast Finland and in Southwest Finland/Satakunta have been published. All three routes are part of the European Hydrogen Backbone Initiative. Over the longer term, subsea interconnectors to connect Finland all the way to the German and other Central-European demand markets is planned. Significant concrete steps to this end were taken at the end of 2022, with the publication of a Nordic collaboration between gas TSOs and offshore wind developers to investigate a large-scale, cross-border collection and transportation infrastructure for green hydrogen (the “Baltic Sea Hydrogen Collector”). Additionally, a TSO-led pre-study for a connection from Finland through the Baltic countries all the way to Poland and Germany can be expected in 2023 (the “Nordic-Baltic Hydrogen Corridor”).