Focus sur la Finlande

Comment un pays semi désertique, soumis à un climat rigoureux, habité par seulement 5.3 millions de personnes, se place en tête des classements internationaux (IDH, legatum prosperity), ainsi qu'en matière de recherche dans le domaine des transports.

Monsieur Nils-Olof Nylund, research professor, D.Tech at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, nous fournit quelques elements :

Dear M.Nylund, can you give us a short presentation of VTT, your key actions concerning energy for transport ?

VTT is the largest research organisation in the Nordic countries with some 3000 employees. VTT is a multidisciplinary institute. Energy is one of the technology focus areas. I'm working as Research Professor for energy use in transport and engine technology. We have a staff of some 30 people working in this field. In 2009, VTT started up a national research programme TransEco. The main themes of the five year programme are energy efficiency and renewable energy. We have a good network within TransEco with participation from 4 ministries, government agencies, companies and research institutes. VTT is participating actively in IEA activities, mainly Advanced Fuel Cells, Advanced Motor Fuels and Bioenergy. The Hybrid and Electric Vehicle agreement is handled by Aalto University (former Technical University of Helsinki).

What is The finish approach in term of research and industrial collaboration ?

We have good networks and a capability to work together. The new TransEco research programme is a good example of this. We have a national funding agency (Tekes) for technology and innovation, and they try to focus financing on activities which actually can lead to business. One such area is thought to be advanced biofuels for transport.

Neste Oil and Stora Enso collaboration is a good example on the Finnish way of working together. The demonstration plant at Stora Enso's pulp and paper mill in Varkaus is based on VTT's gasification and gas cleaning technology. So it is actually tripartite cooperation: VTT-Neste-Stora Enso. In the long run we must stop using edible feedstock for biofuels production, and this venture is a step in the right direction. There are also other consortia in Finland thinking about BTL production. We here in Finland have vast biomass resources in our forests. BTL biodiesel will be pure paraffinic diesel. In fact, Neste Oil is already commercially producing paraffinic diesel through hydrogenation of vegetable oils and animal fats (NExBTL). We already have a fleet of some 300 buses running on high concentration (30 and 100 %) NExBTL here in Helsinki. In this way can accumulate experience of pure paraffinic fuels already at this stage, and get the vehicle manufacturers and operators to accept this new type of fuel.

What is your idea for future transportation systems ?

Today's system is not sustainable, so there is a lot o f work to do. Energy efficiency comes first, in the case of passenger cars it is easy to switch to smaller and more fuel efficient cars. Electrification is coming, but perhaps not as rapidly as many people would hope. Here in Finland we already have a charging infrastructure for EVs, as we have power outlets for electric engine block heaters we use during the wintertime. Electricity is not applicable to all sectors, so we will need ICE equipped vehicles also in the future. Hopefully they can, in increasing volumes, use sustainably produced biofuels. Finland is a scarcely populated country with big distances. Greater Helsinki is only some one million people, so creating really effective public transport systems in Finland is a challenge. We will never be able to build such an extensive metro system like you have in Paris.

Thank you M.Nylund !

L’exemple Neste Oil – Stora enso est particulièrement intéressant. Une des principales ressources de la Finlande est en effet le bois. Pour maximiser l’utilisation de cette ressource, cette collaboration montre une solution possible la multigénération : produire simultanément du papier, du carburant, de l’énergie. Cette voie ne peut être généralisable, chacun devra trouver localement quel est le meilleur usage de sa principale ressource.

En parallèle Neste Oil, avec son NexBTL, préfigure l’industrie des biocarburants de 2ème génération. Après des pilotes et deux unités de 200.000 m3/an situées en Finlande, le groupe construit une unité de 800.000 m3/an le plus proche possible de l’huile, à Singapour, et une autre facile d’accès pour livrer l’huile brute, dans le port Rotterdam. Le choix d’implantation des usines de biocarburants de 2ème génération sera donc dicté en priorité par des questions logistiques et économiques. Il est donc probable que les unités soient placées avant tout au cœur des zones naturelles (donc économiques) de production de biomasse – sous les tropiques, ou au cœur des zones de transit mondiaux – dans les ports.

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