The global energy sector is undergoing a major transition from a fossil fuel burning system to a carbon dioxide free system based on electricity.
“The electrical engineering professorship we’re establishing in Lappeenranta is the first in Finland to specialize in systems technology related to the energy transition. Wind and solar power technologies are gaining ground in both industry and residential buildings, increasing the demand for expertise in the field,” says Dean Olli Pyrhönen from LUT University.
Renewable electricity production will change the Finnish energy system considerably in the coming decades. Its fluctuating availability will require new technology and know-how. Electrical energy will become increasingly important in the national energy supply, and renewable electricity will substitute combustion-based energy in transportation, heating and industry. This trend simply results from the need for economic efficiency and for curbing climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. It also enables Finland to create new industry based on renewable electricity and hydrogen produced with it.
Extensive regional financing; largest donation from Säästöpankkisäätiö foundation
The professorship will be founded with donations from 30 donors, amounting to over a million euros. The largest donations were made by the Etelä-Karjalan Säästöpankkisäätiö foundation and the Etelä-Karjalan Osuuspankki bank. The fundraising was coordinated by Tuomo Sallinen, deputy mayor of Lappeenranta, who was pleasantly surprised by how much attention the professorship drew in the region and beyond.
“Regional industry clearly recognizes the opportunities provided by electrical engineering and LUT's importance in the area. The strong support by the Säästöpankkisäätiö foundation lays the groundwork for the professorship, bolstered by donations from the Etelä-Karjalan Osuuspankki bank and many other foundations, businesses and industry actors,” Sallinen acknowledges.
The professorship and its research group will enable education in a field of the future that will strengthen business and industries and create jobs for decades to come.
“The professorship will embed expertise in this field in Lappeenranta and the surrounding region. It will support the strategy of the City of Lappeenranta, which centres on growth, sustainability and education,” Sallinen adds.
The energy transition progresses
- Renewable electricity production will first replace fossil-based electricity in the main grid.
- In the next phase, renewable electricity will substitute fossil fuels in industrial applications.
- Industrial applications will be based on hydrogen production and will yield products such as emission-free steel, fertilizers or methanol for manufacturing plastics and fuels.
- Because the availability of wind and solar power varies, their large-scale utilization requires novel thinking, methods, technologies, and optimization.
- Promoting electrical engineering research will also boost the Finnish economy and industry.