KAUTE talks Views

Global markets and our strengths – what are the technological solutions for mitigating climate change?

In which climate technologies do you think Finland has the biggest potential in?

Jouni Keronen: “In terms of the global market and future investment volumes, perhaps the most significant is hydrogen technology, which is related to various Power-To-X applications, where electricity is transformed into other products such as fuels, fertilizers and synthetic foods. For the time being, all countries are looking for their positions in the market. Finland has a good starting point for technical solutions and equipment manufacturing. Another significant technology area is battery technology, where Finland has managed to profile itself to some extent. The third major opportunity is in biomaterials, where demand will increase greatly in the coming decades.”

Paula Laine: “The potential arises from the entrepreneurship level and Finland has an extensive array of companies developing different climate technologies. The potential of climate technologies is wide and diverse, because the challenge to be solved itself, namely climate change, is so cross-cutting. In a carbon-neutral future, all sectors of society have adopted new technologies. Housing, transport, food, energy production – all of these will include new climate solutions and that’s why the potential is so diverse.”

Oras Tynkkynen: “Finland should build on its own strengths – for example, we know both digital solutions and bioenergy. On the other hand, we should be patient enough to notice in which sectors the market is growing the most and where there is still less congestion, for example in negative emission technologies. Innovations should also be understood broadly; it’s not just about technology, but also about business models and social innovation.”

What are the main barriers in bringing promising climate technologies to market maturity?

Chad Frischmann: “There are several key obstructs. The first is the market position of industries that have been created around fossil fuel based economy. Second is knowledge – we need to disseminate information more effectively. What solutions already exist and are available? If we keep waiting for the future technology to come along, we are missing the opportunity to invest and accelerate the adopting of solutions that do exist. We have to understand the technologies and practices that are already here, readily available, already scaling, scientifically valid and economically viable. Third key point is that we need to have more progressive policy and financial mechanisms that would shift the subsidies from the companies that are part of the problem to those that are part of the solution.”

Jouni Keronen: “In the long run, a bigger driver is a sufficient price for carbon dioxide, which penalizes polluting solutions and rewards clean ones. At this stage, the price level is not yet high enough for a large-scale deployment of technologies. Properly targeted support mechanisms therefore play a big role in this scenario. And that’s why demand for pioneering products is definitely needed – the biofuel blending obligation was a good example of this.”

Paula Laine: “Access to new climate solutions is affected by e.g. regulation directly and through incentives in the investment environment and the cost competitiveness, performance and reliability of technology. Depending on the technology, bottlenecks can be found in any one of these. When the objective is to accelerate the introduction of climate technologies, the regulatory environment, where development is in full swing, is very important. But the processes require their time. A financial bottleneck may be the commercial scaling of a new technology, which involves significant investments at a stage in which still involves risks. In these kinds of bottlenecks, the state could also complement the readily available financing instruments.”

Oras Tynkkynen: “New solutions require a domestic market, but Finland’s a small country and not always daring to try new things. The implementations of new solutions are also slowed down by the parties representing the old solutions. One still doesn’t need to pay the full price of warming the climate – and heavily polluting solutions are even subsidized by taxes.”

What critical technologies do you think are still overlooked or lack funding or research investments?

Chad Frischmann: “I think what often gets overlooked is the food system. How are we producing food, how are we consuming food and how are we managing our land. One of the principal drivers of deforestation and forest degradation is land use. Food, agriculture and land use account roughly 24 percent of global greenhouse gasses. Often people overlook food loss and waste. We lose about 30–40 percent of all food that’s produced. This creates a tremendous amount of unnecessary emissions.”

Jouni Keronen: “Hydrogen / P2X, biomaterials, new food production methods and carbon capture and storage. In addition to technical sequestration, more attention should be paid to the ability and potential of different materials to sequester carbon and its long-term storage.”

Paula Laine: “Excellent targets for research, development and innovation funding can be found in ambitious projects in many areas. Among other things, there is still a lot of work to be done in the research and development related to the hydrogen economy and carbon sequestration, which is important to accelerate.”

Oras Tynkkynen: “The technologies needed for electricity production are already starting to accumulate well, but there is still work to be done in heat production and electricity storage. The pace must also be substantially accelerated in heavy transit and air and sea transport. There are also major challenges concerning low-emission solutions for industry, agriculture and food production, as well as for carbon recycling and negative emissions.”

Globally, what is the greatest victory so far in our efforts to reach drawdown, and what is the most critical task at the moment, Chad Frischmann?

“What we are seeing in the renewable energy sector is a great victory for achieving drawdown, because we need to get as close as possible to a 100 percent green, renewable grid. It affects buildings, transportation sector and so on – it’s great to have a 100 percent electric vehicle fleet, but if you have a dirty grid powering that, 100 percent electric is not going to be good for global warming. So, I think what we’re seeing in the electricity generation sector is really exciting and shows that we can be on a pathway towards a future that we want.

First, a really important task to reach drawdown is to call out those leaders who are turning their heads aside or talking in parroting. Secondly, we need to have a distributed network connecting all the great work that’s been done in the space of solutions and connecting them together. We need to have a source of knowledge that is free, open, public, data-driven. I think that is a critical task in achieving drawdown, because it allows us to understand the solution relevance at scale. Thirdly, shifting policy and financial mechanisms to be fully supporting a future based on regenerative economy instead of exploitative one.”

Sign up for the TEK Talks X KAUTE talks webinar “Innovation Deficits in Solving Climate Crisis – Where are the Blue Oceans for Climate Tech in Finland?” on May 5th at 4.30 to 6 pm.