Committed to a 100% renewable energy future

Committed to a 100% renewable energy future

The energy innovation community ‘Committed’ aims to drastically accelerate the transition to cleaner, sustainable energy. Here’s a sneak peek into the strategies they plan to use to achieve their goals.

Text: David J. Cord Photo: 123RF

“There are still giant piles of coal in the centre of Helsinki which we use to power and heat the city,” says Outi Kuittinen of Demos Helsinki. “Change is slow, even though everyone wants to transform our energy industry. We need a platform for innovation and collaboration because no one can do it alone.”

This was the seed of the idea behind ‘Committed’, the innovation community aimed at revolutionising the way we think about, produce, transmit and use energy. The founders - Wärtsilä, IT services and software company Tieto, the energy companies St1 and Fortum, and think tank Demos Helsinki - manage the community.

“This is not just another collaborative body to discuss things and share ideas. We have millions of them already,” emphasises Kuittinen. “This community is about acting to save the planet. Our goal is to make the energy revolution happen while creating significant new business.”

All things start as an idea. An idea, from within the community, is presented to the Committed community, who then consider its merits and downsides. They study, improve, experiment and bring to market the best innovations. It also provides a platform for collaboration with other groups, such as established businesses, start-ups, universities, non-governmental organisations and the public sector.

Generate power here, use it there

“We were interested in joining because it is business-oriented and aimed at concrete projects, not just discussions,” says Heidi Laurila, Director of St1’s Future Energy Business. “The community ‘rule’ in Committed is to improve an idea, not shoot it down, which pleased us a lot and has led to open discussions and improving ideas.”

St1 is famous in Finland for their service stations, but they are also at the vanguard of the switch to renewables and are the largest wind power producer in the country. An idea about ‘wind power, the grid and balancing power’ is one project which is being taken forward by the community.

“Northern Norway has some of the best conditions for wind power in the world, but the problem is building the grid to take that energy down to northern Europe,” explains Laurila. “We have a long-term perspective to change Europe’s electricity sector, but we cannot do it alone. We need other players, like the great combination in the energy community.”

A new marketplace in town?

Committed member Fortum has its roots in clean energy, having been founded in 1932 for a hydropower project. They continue that tradition today with solar, biomass and other smart energy solutions.

“Our mission to drive the change towards a cleaner world is aligned with the spirit of the community,” says Tapio Poutiainen, Project Manager at Fortum. “Working in collaboration with other Committed members we can make the change happen and also create new business opportunities for everyone.”

One of the collaboration activities discussed in the energy innovation community is Fortum’s revolutionary marketplace for trading CO₂ removal certificates.

“There are already markets today for emissions trading, but this is just a cap on emissions,” Poutiainen continues. “The idea for the trading of assets which remove CO₂ from the atmosphere has been validated in the community, we have crystallised the concepts behind it, and now it is moving to the execution phase.”

Action, not just talk

Leading Nordic software and service company Tieto has identified sustainability and smart energy solutions as one of their key focus areas in their strategy, so they were a perfect match for Committed.

“We see ourselves as the enabler of cleaner and sustainable energy as the energy system digitalises,” explains Jyri Kivinen, Strategy & Business Development Manager at Tieto, New Energy Services.

Tieto has worked with Wärtsilä for many years and was a natural partner for the community, based on their three decades of industry knowledge and ICT experience in the energy sector.

“Climate change and striving to become carbon neutral are really big problems,” says Kivinen. “This community can draft the visions and it also has the muscle to implement them. Having real actions, not just talk, is very important.”

Joint steps towards 100% renewable energy

Wärtsilä envisions a 100% renewable energy future. As renewables become the new baseload, Wärtsilä provides energy, storage and optimisation solutions to integrate renewables and secure reliability. However, Wärtsilä understands there are many steps to take in that process and that the future won’t be achieved alone.

“Wärtsilä initiated the initiative to create a community, and now we are working together to go forward,” says Eleonor Hedström, Innovation Manager at Wärtsilä. “We are now developing ideas and will look at new innovations. We will engage with others like start-ups or companies not directly involved in the energy industry.”

She stresses that successful co-creation can only occur through trust, which is provided by the Committed community. They will not only study and improve ideas but actually bring them to market. These can be anything from products or services to entirely new business models.

“Our goal is collaboration over competition,” says Hedström. “Some ideas are so big that you need a community to turn them into innovations. Co-creation brings more value; together we create business opportunities and great solutions. We are 100% committed.”

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