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Finland targets giant status in global cleantech arena
by Denise Wall
Helsinki (XNA) Feb 05, 2014

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"We see ourselves as the Henry Ford of wave energy," said Tomasz Mucha, who is responsible for project financing and business development at AW-Energy, a small renewable energy company based in Vantaa, just north of the Finnish capital Helsinki.

"When Ford built the first car he knew what it should do and he had an idea of how it should be done. Eventually, he was able to take the technology to line production," said Mucha.

Mucha and his colleagues are working hard to ensure that in the next five to 10 years, powering household devices with abundant clean energy harvested from the ocean will be more science fact than science fiction.

Currently two companies in Finland's cleantech sector focus on wave energy: AW-Energy and Wello, headquartered in Espoo, a satellite town near Helsinki.

Both companies have patented solutions that convert the kinetic power of ocean waves to electricity.

Wello's Penguin is a specialized vessel that bobs on ocean surfaces while anchored to the seabed, allowing it to convert the rocking and rolling motion to energy.

AW-Energy's WaveRoller is deployed on the ocean floor and features a moveable, fin-like panel that converts the constant undersea wave surge to electricity.

AW-Energy is hoping that its first commercial project will take the company one step closer to the Fordian production line ideal. Plotted for Bretagne in France, the initiative has impressive heavyweight partners behind it: Finnish energy giant Fortum, French naval shipbuilder DCNS and the support of the local Bretagne region.

"We need projects and their operational data before the industry can kick off and get results that will convince conservative organizations like financial institutions, energy companies and insurance companies," Mucha emphasized.

Kaisa Hernberg, executive director of the government-backed export promotion network Cleantech Finland, said that renewable energy companies represent just one aspect of Finland's dynamic clean technology sector.

Altogether the sector includes 2,000 companies and organizations and cuts across a diverse range of industries: energy and materials efficiency; technology for built up environments; bioenergy and biofuels; and water management, including water treatment or purification.

Finnish cleantech is quietly yet solidly increasing its contribution to the Finnish economy and conquering major markets abroad.

"In 2012 the turnover of the cleantech sector surpassed that of the forestry industry, so it's major business in Finland, and turnover in the sector increased by 15 percent in 2012," Hernberg elaborated.

"It's the competitive factor that spawns the growth," she added.

According to AW-Energy's Mucha that competitive factor includes an operational model that has become a key feature of many companies operating in the techno-industrial sector.

"Finland has well-established know-how in the heavy machinery and equipment industry, and has been traditionally involved in heavy industry. In addition there is a business model where R and D and core components are produced in Finland and exported to projects on-site," Mucha outlined.

The competitive edge has also seen Finland's cleantech sector grow to employ 50,000 people with another 40,000 jobs to be added by 2020, according to estimates by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

Moreover, it has helped the Nordic nation spread its cleantech wings far and wide.

"China is the number one market for Finnish cleantech. They have ambitious emission reductions targets so they are very interested in cleantech solutions," Hernberg noted.

She added that Russia, Brazil, India, Germany and Sweden are also major markets, and the United States to some extent.

"What they all have in common is that they are all large growth markets. And many of the emerging economies are struggling with the effects of wide industrialization and urbanization," she said.

A 2013 analysis of the global renewables market by a specialist team at the business and financial information provider Bloomberg estimated that by 2030, renewable technologies will account for 50 percent of new power generation capacity globally.

Groundbreakers like AW-Energy and Mucha want to play a major role in that transformation, and in so doing could make Finland a global cleantech giant.

Source: Xinhua News Agency


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