Vaasan Sähkö is involved in an industrial-scale green hydrogen project
The upheaval of the European energy market proves the need for self-sufficiency in the supply of energy itself. Vaasan Sähkö is an energy company that supplies electricity to every corner of Finland from its home base in Vaasa. The company is currently developing a solution to society’s energy challenge with its partners, Wärtsilä and EPV Energy. That solution is the H-Flex-E system. It will solve the challenges of volatile wind power by generating flexible balancing power from hydrogen to the grid.
“With H-Flex-E, wind power will generate its own balancing power. It involves using renewable wind energy to make hydrogen by splitting water into hydrogen gas and oxygen, after which the resulting hydrogen is stored in tanks. When there is high pressure and the wind dies down, a hydrogen-fuelled generator will provide emission-free balancing power to the grid”, explains Hans-Alexander Öst, Director of electricity trade business unit at Vaasan Sähkö.
The planned hydrogen-fuelled engines will each have a power output of 12 MW and will be the first industrial-scale plants of their kind in the world. In addition to hydrogen, the engines could also run on for example biogas. H-Flex-E will be a fully modular solution. If more electrolysers, hydrogen tanks or hydrogen-fuelled engines are needed later, they can be easily added to the system.
The vision and importance of the H-Flex-E project is reflected in the maximum 40% investment aid from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
“This aid of more than 14 million euros will take us a long way in developing this completely new industrial-scale facility of the future”, says Öst.
The H-Flex-E system is now at the permitting phase, and the engines, with their new technology, are under development. After the environmental permit is granted, an investment decision will be taken by the end of 2023. If everything goes according to plan, the hydrogen-fuelled engines will start operating in Vaasa by 2026 at the latest.
The work carried out to develop H-Flex-E demonstrates the power of co-creation and the unique trust between the players in the Vaasa energy cluster. Vaasan Sähkö, Wärtsilä and EPV Energy form a complete chain for the hydrogen project, from the development of the plant to energy delivery to customers. EPV owners, as Vaasan Sähkö, needs balancing power for its energy production, and Wärtsilä is developing a hydrogen-fuelled engine for this purpose.
“At Vaasan Sähkö, we will eventually be able to sell carbon-neutral, steady energy to our customers,” Öst says.