This solution aims at establishing a countrywide network of energy villages: areas that produce their own renewable energy. Starting from the Finnish countryside, it helps bid farewell to fossil fuels and airs out the current energy systems, explains team leader Pekka Peura.
“When a director of a big research institute heard about our solution for the first time, his immediate reaction was: ‘Damn it, that is an excellent idea. We should immediately put 500 of these up in Finland.’ That’s where we got the name for our solution: Energy Village 500.
Our solution is a countrywide network of small regions – energy villages – that aim to be completely self-sufficient when it comes to renewable energy. These areas can house dozens or thousands of dwellers and consist of all sorts of actors, from energy consumers to companies. Fields, forests and other parts of nature are a crucial component of the villages since that’s basically where all the renewable energy, such as bioenergy, wind power and solar power, stems from.
This solution is something we’ve wanted to take further for a while now, but it won’t happen in the blink of an eye. It is based on years of research, widespread collaboration and previous projects on the same subject. The transition away from fossil fuelled energy towards sustainable energy management is a vast societal process. Unlike the common perception, it is much more than just a technical exercise, although technology is necessary to keep the wheels turning. Business and the regional economy, regulation, environmental aspects, societal acceptance, citizens and policies are critical factors as well.
After the Energy Village 500 network is up and running, we’d like to create a practical long-term action and implementation plan for each energy village. Although we’re developing this idea in Finland first, it could just as well be an export product. We could apply this solution especially to areas where the energy infrastructure is weak but you can easily produce bioenergy, such as India or China.”
1. Why can your team make the world a better and more sustainable place?
“We have a massive idea that we can execute without much fuss. The Finnish energy system should be thoroughly renewed. Our solution is a concrete step towards getting rid of fossil fuelled energy and moderating climate change.”
2. If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would it be?
“Of course we need support from the corporate world and the energy industry. But Al Gore, for example, former Vice President of the United States and a global environmental influencer, would be a great person with whom we could process the idea further.”
3. What’s the best thing that has come out of science and research this far?
“On the one hand, science has increased global well-being. On the other hand, the whole globe is in danger right now because of climate change, for example. A lot of people are still sceptical about scientifically proven facts. Sure, we’ve managed to create tolerable conditions for mankind, but an even bigger achievement would be to do that in an environmentally friendly way. Today, we can see a number of signs pointing towards a better direction – but unfortunately also in the opposite direction.”
Pekka Peura, team leader, Director, Levón Institute, University of Vaasa
Kimmo Kauhaniemi, professor, University of Vaasa
Erkki Hiltunen, professor, University of Vaasa
Pirkko Vartiainen, professor, University of Vaasa
Arto Rajala, professor, University of Vaasa
Ari Haapanen, project manager, University of Vaasa
Simo Keskinen, researcher, University of Vaasa
Hannu Törmä, professor, University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute
Sami P. Kurki, professor, University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute
Susanna Kujala, researcher, University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute
Raimo Lovio, professor, Aalto University
Ari Ekroos, professor, Aalto University
Kanerva Sunila, doctoral student, Aalto University
Karoliina Auvinen, researcher, Aalto University
Antti Asikainen, professor, Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE)
Perttu Anttila, senior scientist, Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE)
Tapio Tuomi, manager, Finnish Clean Energy Association
Keijo Siitonen, specialist, ProAgria Lapland
Jukka Lokka, development manager, Sodankylä Municipality