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14 September 2023 | News

Nearly €3 million for a just hydrogen transition research project

The University of Oulu's hydrogen and energy research will be strengthened in the coming years with new research projects that will address the societal issues of the energy transition at the community level.

Nearly €3 million for a just hydrogen transition research project
Photo: Mikko Törmänen/University of Oulu

On 11 September 2023, the Strategic Research Council (STN) of the Academy of Finland awarded €27 million for research on the just green transition for 2023-2026. Five consortia were funded under the Energy Solutions for a Just Green Transition programme, two of which are led by the University of Oulu.

Climate neutral, justified and sustainable H2 Transition (JustH2Transit)

The JustH2Transit research project aims to create a comprehensive picture of the hydrogen transition in Finland. The project aims to lead the change in Finnish society related to the increasing use of hydrogen, based on research findings.

"In addition to the technological revolution, the hydrogen transition raises major societal questions for which sustainable answers must be found. Equity is an important economic and territorial issue. It is typical internationally, for example, to support the changes brought about by the green transition, as long as they do not affect one's local environment, and these challenges are also visible in Finland," says Professor Marko Huttula, head of hydrogen research at the University of Oulu.

The project will map the current situation of hydrogen transfer in Finland and the related system-level bottlenecks. Alongside this, the environmental, technical-economic and social impacts of hydrogen transfer will be examined. The linkages of the hydrogen shift to the bio- and circular economy will be assessed from the perspectives of resource use and sufficiency. Answers and alternatives to these themes will be sought to strengthen the resilience, resilience and equity of our societies.

The multidisciplinary research also involves the Natural Resources Institute Finland, LUT University, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the BotH2nia hydrogen network.

The STN granted funding of almost €3 million to the JustH2Transit project. The share of the University of Oulu was around €740,000.

Solutions to the energy crisis: a fair, flexible and resilient energy system (FLAIRE)

The FLAIRE (Solutions for Transition: Fair, flexible and socially resilient energy systems) research project explores the opportunities and barriers for solutions based on electricity consumption flexibility in households and municipalities to increase the flexibility of energy system transformation. Consumption flexibility means shifting electricity use to moments when electricity is abundant. It can also be based on reducing overall energy consumption. Both flexibility solutions can be implemented either through automation or information management.

"The biggest challenge in the energy transition is providing clean and affordable energy for all. Households and organisations have already become accustomed to reducing energy consumption during electricity price spikes. For many, energy saving is the natural and cheapest way to reduce emissions," says project leader Eva Pongrácz, Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems and Environmental Engineering at the University of Oulu. "However, the potential for shifting consumption to adapt to price fluctuations is really high. Vulnerable households who cannot afford to invest in energy efficiency are particularly affected by electricity prices. Reducing consumption peaks would stabilise electricity prices, thereby reducing household electricity bills. This will increase sustainability and at the same time equity," Pongrácz said.

A key part of the FLAIRE project is the testing of solutions and the development of virtual power plants for municipalities. Solutions and pathways for change will be developed in close cooperation with citizens and key stakeholders.

The other partners in the research consortium are the Finnish Environment Institute, Aalto University and the Universities of Helsinki and Turku.

STN provided funding of more than €2.7 million for the FLAIRE project. The share of the University of Oulu was around €730,000.

Read the press release of the University of Oulu (in Finnish)