Finland plans hydrogen network for cleaner, self-reliant future

Eurogroup Finance Ministers meeting in Luxembourg
Finland's Finance Minister Annika Saarikko attends a meeting of Eurogroup Finance Ministers at the European Council building in Luxembourg, Luxembourg June 17, 2021. Francisco Seco/Pool via REUTERS

HELSINKI, June 22 (Reuters) - Finland announced plans on Wednesday to build a hydrogen transmission network to help reduce carbon emissions and bolster the long-term security of its energy supplies following its decision to stop using Russian gas.

Finance Minister Annika Saarikko said state-owned Gasgrid Finland, which has so far handled natural gas mostly from Russia, would build the network over the next several years.

Finland said it would stop using Russian gas following its neighbour's invasion of Ukraine, and Moscow cut supplies when Helsinki refused its demand to pay in roubles. read more

Finland has several alternative sources of energy, including nuclear, but is interested in expanding the use of hydrogen, which can help reduce carbon emissions if it is produced using renewable electricity.

Gasgrid Finland will found a subsidiary that will develop the hydrogen transmission network first in Finland and later abroad, Saarikko said, adding production of hydrogen would be left to private companies.

She said the network, which will take years to complete, would consist of three "hydrogen valleys", with two of them on the western coast near existing wind power infrastructure and one in southeastern Finland.

The government did not give a cost for the network, saying it would initially be funded from Gasgrid's existing capital.

Construction will start in southeastern Finland near the Russian border with a 15-kilometre (9-mile) hydrogen pipeline from chemicals producer Kemira's (KEMIRA.HE) fertilizer plant in Joutseno to steelmaker Ovako's plant in Imatra, Saarikko said.

"Also from the perspective of security of supply, we will ensure that these infrastructure networks that are considered such important strategic state assets, will remain in our own hands, just as it is for natural gas and electricity," she said.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen Editing by Terje Solsvik and Mark Potter

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