The Mayor of Vaasa, Tomas Häyry, is not afraid to say out loud what is the guiding theme throughout the Vaasa region right now:
“We need visionary and global action. This is a project that will help to build Vaasa’s future for several generations going forward.”
The project Häyry is referring to is the scheme for a battery factory that is under way in the region and which he has been enthusiastically promoting. Häyry is not the project’s only supporter – representatives from companies and public entities throughout the region, as well as residents of the area, are backing the venture in droves.
Despite his active role, however, this is not the Mayor’s own idea, but the brainchild of a man named Toni Laturi who grew up in Vaasa but currently lives in Helsinki. When Laturi heard about
Tesla’s plans to establish a battery factory in Europe a wild idea began to unfold in his mind – a battery factory in Vaasa! The potential of the idea dawned on the Mayor very quickly so there was no need for a long sales pitch to convince him.
“I had long been pondering the next move for developing the energy cluster and when I heard about the idea of a battery factory I knew instantly that the pieces were finally clicking together,” Häyry says. He believes that the Vaasa region’s energy know-how is superbly suited for application in new branches of industry, such as projects linked to energy storage.
The GigaVaasa project has brought about an unprecedented community spirit in the region. The Mayor claims that he has never seen anything like it in his long career. In his opinion, the primary reason for the enthusiasm is the fact that Vaasa is genuinely an eminently suitable location for a battery factory.
Häyry considers the era we are living in a historical one and compares the significance of the changes taking place to when cars became commonplace or when mobile phones were launched.
“We are already living in a time of change, because energy systems will evolve vastly in the foreseeable future,” Häyry says. He adds that the technological revolution relating to energy storage and batteries have proceeded even faster than anticipated.
Big leaps in development are not new to the Vaasa region. The early 2000s were a period of strong growth for the area, as its energy technology companies thrived and grew at an unprecedented rate. If the projects being prepared now come true, they will mean a change at least as significant.
“We have always dared to think big here. This will not be the first time that the challenges brought on by growth will be solved with flexibility and cooperation,” Häyry says. The Mayor reveals that the preparations for the project in Vaasa are progressing rapidly and many concrete measures, such as the land use planning for the factory area, have already been completed.
“I will be very disappointed if our current efforts don’t produce results within the next two years,” he concludes.
The region’s strengths
Vaasa, also known as the energy capital of Finland, is home to the largest cluster of energy technology in the Nordic countries.
Kokkola houses the most significant hub of chemical industry expertise in Northern Europe.
Much of the minerals needed for the manufacture of batteries can be sourced close to Vaasa; from the lithium deposits in Kaustinen, to nickel deposits in Harjavalta and graphite deposits in Finland and Sweden.
Vaasa has an abundance of university-educated experts. The region’s universities continuously develop their research activities in close cooperation with the region’s companies.
A global player
Vaasa is one of the most international cities in Finland. The region’s companies operate in the global market and almost a hundred languages are spoken in the area.
Easy to reach
Vaasa has quick air connections to the rest of the world via Helsinki and Stockholm. The sea route from Vaasa to Umeå in Sweden is an important link in the east-to-west arterial route, and the Port of Kokkola is one of the busiest freight traffic harbours in Finland.
Clean, renewable energy is easily available in the Vaasa region for production and other energy needs.