22/09/2021

Extensive regional cooperation is the key to boosting battery industry growth in Finland

Southeast Finland is known as a highly industrialised region that has what it takes to enter the battery industry, Harri Eela of Cursor writes in our blog.

Harri Eela, Senior Advisor, Cursor Oy, regional development company

At the beginning of 2021, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland published a national battery strategy, which seeks to strengthen the innovative battery sector ecosystem, boost sustainable, low-carbon economic growth in Finland, and support the achievement of the climate goals for transport. Extensive national cooperation is needed to successfully attain the seven objectives set in the strategy.

The objectives are aligned with the biggest climate challenges, and they also give Finland the opportunity to play a role in building the fast-growing battery industry. We have tackled this challenge head on.

In the cities of Kotka and Hamina, the common interest between what the battery industry needs and what we have to offer was identified about four years ago, resulting in the decision to participate in providing an alternative to Northvolt’s battery gigafactory. Playing to your strengths and learning from experience are important skills in any sector. For example, having a large international actor establish operations in our local paper mill was a learning experience and made us believe in our potential. We are cooperating closely with Business Finland to build up Finland’s supply chain together.

In 2019, our regional development company for Kotka-Hamina, Cursor Oy, received the Internationalisation Award of the President of the Republic of Finland. In my opinion, the award was a recognition of all regional development companies. Each sector may be different, but regional development activities are similar everywhere. Common interests can be found by understanding the needs of battery gigafactories.

Southeast Finland is ready for battery sector investments

The strengths of the Kotka-Hamina region and Southeast Finland as a whole contribute significantly to the development of the battery sector. We have a strong industrial heritage built on big process industry plants and the local service infrastructure. The necessary energy cluster is already in place through electricity transmission and local expertise, and sustainable energy solutions are available in the region.

Our active cooperation with a university of applied sciences and various universities provides both educational paths and opportunities to develop new technologies. One good example of such cooperation is the establishment of the energy storage professorship at LUT University in Kotka, which also supports the battery sector.

One essential piece of the whole is the cost-effective and responsible transport of raw materials and finished products. The biggest universal port in Finland – Port of HaminaKotka Ltd – is a complete package of sea, road and rail transport. For example, Terrafame Oy recently agreed to direct their containers and bulk cargo to the Port of KotkaHamina.

We have connections to all significant oceanic ports in Europe, and our port area also serves as an industrial park. In fact, Hamina already has a chemical industry environment all set to meet the needs of a precursor plant, for example. The cities of Hamina and Kotka have already signed preliminary agreements with Finnish Battery Chemicals Oy for plots for building battery material plants.

It is important to act responsibly

Responsible actions bring about responsible solutions. This principle applies to both the raw materials and commodities available in Finland as well as to our regional development efforts.

Supervision by the authorities is a legal requirement in Finland, and a strict permit process calls for solutions that take environmental aspects into account. Local actors have also set their own goals with the aim of finding sustainable solutions for their operations. For example, the world class data centre located in Hamina aims to become carbon neutral by 2030, and the possibility of producing wood-derived anode material is being explored in Kotka. Being responsible includes ensuring safety and security. In Kotka, the safety park activities launched by a local university of applied sciences include the cost-effective provision of simulation and testing.

Our region is committed and ready to tackle the battery cluster’s challenges through extensive local, national and international cooperation.

Harri Eela

Harri Eela

Senior Advisor, Cursor Oy