Renewable energy research centre aims to be a beacon of research excellence for green energy and low carbon technologies

As Finland prepares to meet its carbon dioxide reduction goals, there has been renewed interest in renewable energy in the region of Päijät-Häme in southern Finland and its main city, Lahti. But the region has traditionally been a low competence area with little university-level activity in the energy and environmental sector.

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The Renewable Energy Research Centre Energon. The Renewable Energy Research Centre Energon.

The opening in spring 2010 of the Renewable Energy Research Centre Energon has for the first time provided the region with a world-leading research centre for renewable energy, energy efficiency and the development of new technologies.

One of the centre’s main aims is the development and commercial exploitation of environmentally-friendly products such as liquid, gaseous and solid biofuels. Among other developments, the research centre has designed and built unique measuring systems for ground source and air-to-water heat pumps. These systems produce advanced data on the pumps’ function.

A green state-of-the-art research centre

Important work has also been carried out on the quality and burning properties of bio-oils and bio-gas, energy efficient boilers and burner solutions as well as on particulates, nitrogen oxides and other emissions.

The research centre’s facilities include a heat pump laboratory, a fuel laboratory, various experimental boiler rooms, fuel storage facilities and 14.4 square metres of solar panels. The choice of equipment and facilities was largely guided by the strengths and research interests of the most promising environmental technology companies in the region. The aim throughout has been to identify practical business needs to which the research centre can respond.

The research centre rents its facilities and equipment out to research units and businesses engaged in industrial development activity. Demand for access to the centre’s facilities has been high and equipment time has been booked out months in advance. Around half of the researchers working in the centre come from private sector companies, the other half are academics from universities or research institutes.

Juha Hertsi of the regional council of Päijät-Häme said that in the short amount of time since its opening the centre had been involved in some significant research.  “I think that the centre has been very successful and it has been very good for the image of our region,” he said.

The green energy centre was a combined project of the Lahti Science and Business Park, the Lahti University of Applied Sciences and the Regional Council of Päijät-Häme.

Total and EU funding

The project “Renewable Energy Research Centre Energon” had a total budget of EUR 3 720 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 860 000 through the 'Southern Finland' Operational Programme for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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