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Cleaner energy and a cleaner environment

CLEEN is promoting a new approach to organising energy and environmental research in Finland, through initiatives such as a world-class open innovation platform for market-driven joint research carried out by industry and the academic world.

Created in 2008 to facilitate and coordinate world-class, industry-driven research in the energy and environmental fields, CLEEN has 45 shareholders today, including major international companies with significant energy- and environmental-related R&D activities in Finland, together with the country’s key national research institutes active in these fields.

CLEEN’s mission – as a Strategic Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation (SHOK) – is to create value by offering a continuously evolving, open innovation ecosystem that brings together the best that industry and the academic world have to offer. CLEEN ’s shareholders cover a wide range of businesses, all of which share a common belief that cleaner energy and a cleaner environment represent a major opportunity that needs to be grasped with both hands.

The China Testbed pilot is intended to develop a broader understanding of environmental issues as they affect Finland and China. Photo: photoeverywhere.co.uk

Focused research initiatives

CLEEN’s research portfolio is currently focused on six main programmes: CCSP (Carbon Capture and Storage Program); DESY (Distributed Energy Systems); EFEU (Efficient Energy Use); FCEP (Future Combustion Engine Power Plant); MMEA (Measurement, Monitoring and Environmental Efficiency Assessment); and SGEM (Smart Grids and Energy Markets).

The first of these – CCSP – is aimed at developing CCS-related technologies and concepts that will result in pilots and demonstrations around the middle of the current decade and commercial applications from 2020 onwards. CCS in industry and combined heat and power (CHP) are two areas that are being particularly focused on, together with Chemical Looping Combustion (CLC ) and mineral carbonation.

The DESY programme is intended to increase the generation of renewable energy and promote the use of hybrid energy technologies, including energy storage – by analysing, comparing, and recommending the best and most efficient alternatives.

The Efficient Energy Use programme, for its part, is concentrating on enabling step-wise improvements in energy efficiency beyond what can be achieved by continuous improvement and the use of best available technologies (BAT). The ultimate aim is to achieve a significant improvement in the economic and technical efficiency of process and energy systems through a mix of system integration, optimisation, and technology development.

Leading the field into the future

Building on the leading position that Finnish industry has achieved in the field globally, the Future Combustion Engine Power Plant program is aimed at ensuring that this lead can be maintained by developing new know-how, technology, and products. The scope of the programme extends from basic research on engine performance, emission formation, and emission reduction to applied research on ways of improving the energy efficiency, sustainability, and competitive advantage of internal combustion engine-based power plants.

In the case of the Smart Grids and Energy Markets programme, participants are investigating different types of smart grid architectures and distribution infrastructure models, intelligent management and operating techniques, market integration, and the various new business models that will be needed to make the most of tomorrow’s smart grids.

Graph: By promoting new ways for industry, research institutes, and universities to work together, those behind CLEEN believe that the entire innovation chain will benefit.

Pioneering cooperation

The Measurement, Monitoring and Environmental Efficiency Assessment (MMEA) research consortium is concentrating on developing new tools, standards, and methods for measuring environmental impact and developing new applications and services to improve the energy and material efficiency of society’s economic infrastructure and industrial processes.

In particular, the emphasis is on new measurement technologies, such as on-line and remote sensing technologies, more effective data quality assurance methods, modelling, and forecasting tools – together with the ICT infrastructure needed to make all this possible. The backbone of the programme is the MMEA Platform (Framework (software, definitions, documentation, and guidelines) – Testbed – Envitori environmental information marketplace).

The MMEA Testbed will extend the existing Helsinki Testbed, which operates several hundred observation stations measuring weather-related parameters, and integrate data from several environmental measurement networks into a common portal for analysis, modelling, and use in developing new environmental services.

A China Testbed pilot, launched in 2012, is designed to extend the reach of this work further, by opening up new opportunities for Finnish and Chinese companies and researchers to exchange know-how and develop a broader understanding of environmental issues as they affect Finland and China in different ways. The plan is to test the technology and services developed in the MMEA programme in Shenzhen in collaboration with Chinese researchers.

This will include a mobile environmental service for providing near-realtime information on local air quality conditions, benefiting asthmatics and other special health groups, as well as the rest of the population in urban areas. Participants will be invited to act as sensors and submit their subjective observations on current air quality conditions via a dedicated mobile application.

> Tommy Jacobsen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2013)