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EU firm to participate in bioenergy research in Finland and India to build up forest and energy partnerships

Fortum will take part in BEST research programme with goal to encompass new kind of collaboration between forest and energy know-how

Participants in the BEST research programme will include forest, energy, technology and consultancy companies

A Finnish firm is to take part in a bioenergy research programme in Finland and India which aims to build up collaborations between forest and energy companies. Firm Fortum will participate in the Sustainable Bioenergy Solutions for Tomorrow (BEST) research programme, which is established by two Strategic Centres for Science, Technology and Innovation (SHOK), CLEEN Oy and FIBIC Oy, in the EU and BRIC countries.

The programme is the first joint programme of the two SHOKs, with a goal is to encompass a "completely new kind of collaboration between forest and energy know-how." TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) is the main partner from India during the first phase of the programme.

Participants in the new research programme include several forest, energy, technology and consultancy companies as well as universities and research institutions. The research programme will last four years with an annual volume of about EUR 4m. Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) is providing EUR 4.2m in funding for the first two-year period of the programme.

Dr Pradipta Halder, director, TERI Nordic, said: "Cooperation between TERI Nordic and Fortum Corporation will provide clear opportunities to address the energy challenges faced by a large number of Indian states and union territories, particularly in the east and south, by introducing next generation of renewable energy technologies and production pathways developed by Fortum.

"Foreign collaboration can bring state of the art technologies into the country, especially clean energy technologies and expertise for efficient ways of producing and distributing power all over the country," he added.

 

Fortum said the long-term goal of its research and development efforts is to enable a sustainable, carbon dioxide-free future.

"Bioenergy is an important energy source, and its acquisition and use in energy production must be ecologically, economically and socially sustainable," the company said.

Marja Englund, R&D manager, responsible for the collaboration in Fortum, said: "The demand for bioenergy for various purposes will increase and international trade will expand. As a result, new means and business models for responsible management of the bioenergy chain will be needed. The goal of the new research programme is to develop a radically improved way of operating as an ecosystem of bioenergy, i.e. as a whole."

High efficiency of primary energy and the possibility to flexibly use different biomasses for fuel are characteristic to CHP production. Scarcity of natural resources and emissions issues will increase the value of CHP production in the future, which could present a significant opportunity for exporting Finnish know-how.

International collaboration to benefit India

Significant international research collaboration with India will be part of the programme. In India, which is one of the world's fastest growing economies, energy supply is a key factor in creating better living conditions and in social and industrial development.

Fortum said emerging economies have their "own unique characteristics", and the differences are often substantial when compared to old industrialised countries. The successful exporting of Finnish know-how requires a good understanding of the target areas and their development potential. In India, electricity production can't keep up with the growing demand, and fuel scarcity and environmental issues are significant challenges already today.

Maria Paatero-Kaarnakari, senior vice president, Fortum Asia, said: "Energy-efficient CHP production has a lot of potential in India, and Finnish know-how can offer solutions for understanding and capitalising that potential. Fortum has operated in India since early 2012 with a goal to assess the opportunities for participating in the development of India's energy sector by investing particularly in CHP production, which would provide steam and electricity for energy-intensive industry. The programme being launched is very interesting and supports our ambition of utilising locally sourced biofuels whenever possible."

The news from Fortum follows other collaborations between Finland and India over the last year to develop renewable energy in the BRIC country. This includes Finland's Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and India's Axis Bank agreeing on a USD 50m loan to build seven Indian wind farms in May 2012. Finland has also shown interest in developing renewable projects in emerging markets such as Chile. Chilean and Finnish companies signed an agreement to develop each other's renewable energy technologies in February this year.