ForTheDoers Blog

Partnering up to drive the development of the hydrogen economy

27 June 2023, 10:00 EEST

When made with clean electricity, hydrogen can be used to replace fossil fuels and raw materials in industry and the transport and energy sectors. However, the hydrogen economy in the Nordic countries is still at an early stage – now, we’re looking to partner with industry to help shape its development.

Forest and lakes

Hydrogen is the buzzword of the moment. Lots of hopes are being pinned on this colorless and odorless gas: it is expected to not only replace natural gas, but also power trucks and ships, displace coal use in steel making, be a key component in the clean fuel and ammonia production as well as balance the power grid. Hydrogen is so versatile that not even the sky is the limit since it could also be used as fuel for jets. Thanks to its many potential applications, when produced with clean power, hydrogen can help us move away from using polluting fossil fuels in places where direct electrification isn’t possible.

At the moment, the existing Nordic hydrogen market is based on fossil fuels (almost all hydrogen today is made from fossil fuels), and the clean hydrogen market is in the early stages of its making. Therefore, most of the decarbonization applications are in the early stages of development. The hydrogen that is produced is made for a specific purpose, usually close to the place that consumes it, and there are no hydrogen pipelines that connect a plant in Sweden to a steel mill in Finland (nor vice versa).

A benefit of being at this early stage in the development is that there is a great opportunity to be in the forefront of shaping the development of the new hydrogen economy. At Fortum, we’re not starting from scratch either, we have been studying hydrogen applications since the 1990’s and working actively since the mid 2010’s.

A (nearly) one-stop shop for industrial decarbonization

Our approach aims to boost industrial decarbonization, particularly in the steelmaking, pulp and paper and transport sectors, through electrification and green hydrogen. We can also make use of hydrogen to decarbonize our own processes, at the same time boosting the circular economy. What we bring to the table is an ability to produce clean electricity that can then be used to produce hydrogen via electrolysis. On top of this, we’re exploring ways of making new hydrocarbons like plastics and fuels from captured greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., flue gas).

With the skills our people have, Fortum is (nearly) a one-stop shop for industrial decarbonization. Apart from our existing expertise in hydrogen, we combine operations in hydro, nuclear, wind and solar power across the Nordics with our decades of expertise from, among other things, district heating, recycling and waste, project management, power trading, public affairs, and sustainability. To this we add an ever curious and problem-solving attitude – if we can’t solve a problem by ourselves, we’ll find partners who can.

To really succeed in finding the places where a switch from processes using fossil fuels into electricity based or hydrogen based ones can be made we have to build close partnerships with industrial actors. The solutions must often be tailored to each particular use case and also make commercial sense.

So what does the future look like? Our goal is clear: to develop decarbonization opportunities and business concepts together with our partners, enabling new hydrogen production. One of the most interesting projects ongoing, is the joint study with the steel company SSAB, where we are exploring the possibilities of helping SSAB to decarbonize their steel production in Raahe, Finland by using clean hydrogen. It a very exciting opportunity, creating lots of valuable industrial-scale hydrogen expertise across the whole value chain. With the study, we are at the heart of our mission to help industries to decarbonize, doing it together with our strategic customers and partners with their needs as the starting point.


Read more about our hydrogen projects:

Staffan Sandblom

Head of Hydrogen Development
Tel: +46 70 344 5578
staffan [dot] sandblom [at] fortum [dot] com

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