23/03/2022

The world is going electric – we want to be with it

Kotka is making a determined effort to foster battery industry in the city, writes Mayor Esa Sirviö in our blog.

Esa Sirviö, Mayor, Kotka

Throughout its history, the city of Kotka has been an international community. Thanks to access to the sea and our port, we have had the opportunity to be pioneers in many things. The port certainly contributed to the rapid establishment of the forest industry in the Kymi River valley 150 years ago. The new industry also provided a substantial boost to the development of the city of Kotka. Although the forest industry is very much a traditional industry, it has introduced a number of innovations over the past century and a half, ensuring that our region has always been on the cutting edge.

To put it another way, it is by no means odd that we are striving to be ahead of the curve, because this is what we are used to. We now live in a world that is going electric at an accelerating pace, and this is placing new demands on both small-scale and large-scale energy storage.

Electrification involves the development and processing of battery materials and new innovations that are a perfect fit for the culture of our region. As with the forest industry, progress in this field relies on robust process industry expertise for success, and in this respect our region has an extensive tradition, existing infrastructure and effective cooperation networks.

Battery industry offers a pathway to new opportunities

The vision in the city strategy of Kotka is “Pathway to new opportunities”, and I myself see the battery industry as an incredible opportunity. The entire city administration is ready and willing to put their shoulder to the wheel. And in fact, we have already been doing so.

We determined in our city strategy that our continued success depends on valuing lifelong learning and entrepreneurship. We continue to invest in cooperation and community, stressing the excellence of our living environment. The City of Kotka and the city corporation have the stated policy aim of adopting sustainable development and biodiversity as the foundation for everything we do. We are currently updating our strategy, but these underlying goals will remain, because we see them as a fundamental resource.

My feeling is that we have already established a firm basis for the arrival of the battery industry in our city with these strategic policies, which I should say are rather more than just words on a page: they are already firmly governing our practical actions. We have genuinely deployed our strategy in our decision-making and in our activities on the ground. A few examples will suffice to demonstrate this. The City of Kotka is the public transport authority for the region. In the competitive tendering for public transport that we conducted last year, we required bidders to commit to adopting electrically powered public transport. After a transition period, electric buses will be introduced in Kotka. Kotkan Energia Oy, a city corporation company, has prepared a roadmap leading to carbon-neutral energy production. The roadmap sets the goal for the company to be completely carbon-neutral in district heating production by 2030.

Lignin from the forest industry to become battery material

The City is working with regional development company Cursor Oy in a determined effort to help the battery industry and other development projects. In battery material projects, we are fortunate to have partnered with a Finnish company, the Finnish Minerals Group, in a straightforward and streamlined process. The City of Kotka aims to remain a reliable, innovative, honest and transparent partner.

In keeping with the values of the city, we seek to be the wind in the sails of the battery industry in a bold and brisk partnership. Interestingly, the future of the battery industry ties in with the forest industry that I referred to above. An international forest industry research institution in our region is currently studying how lignin, a substance derived from wood, could be used as a battery material, and the results are very promising. This is great news that inspires me to see our region as having increasing potential as an emerging major battery industry cluster. We have the will in our hearts and the strength in our arms to create a better future, going electric.

Esa Sirviö

Esa Sirviö

Mayor, Kotka