Green transition challenges universities to refine new solutions
Anne Berner, professional board member, Chair of the Fundraising Committee of the University of Vaasa
Tomas Kåberger, Professor, Chalmers University of Technology, Member of the Scientific Board of the University of Vaasa, Member of the Board of Vattenfall
Jari Kuusisto, Rector, University of Vaasa
Finland’s ambitions carbon neutrality target will further raise the bar for skills and education. Meeting this challenge means that universities need to continuously develop their teaching, research skills and cooperation with business. The University of Vaasa has long since taken up the challenge, for example by developing projects and curricula related to environmental impact. Environmental responsibility is also a central theme of the University’s strategy.
The University of Vaasa is located in the largest energy and environment cluster in Northern Europe. One of its main tasks is to contribute to the reform of the energy sector and the fight against climate change. Close cooperation with the business community, including global players in the region such as ABB, Hitachi, Danfoss and Wärtsilä, has proven fruitful, particularly in the area of environmental innovation. The commercialisation of solutions and their potential to reduce the carbon footprint, i.e. increase the carbon handprint, is an essential part of the university's research and development activities.
Examples of raising the climate bar can also be found in several EU-funded projects. One of these is the CHEK project, which promotes low-carbon shipping by combining a range of energy technologies and innovative ship design. The aim is to reduce emissions from shipping by introducing low-carbon energy sources such as hydrogen or wind power, and various technologies such as electric batteries. The aim is also to improve the way ships are designed and controlled. Another topical example relates to cyber security and energy systems, which the university is exploring into EU-funded projects. Electricity is a critical product for society, and its supply must be guaranteed in all circumstances. This aspect has been strongly highlighted, especially in the context of the international energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.
The university also wants to be a pioneer in its own activities. The ongoing development of the entire university campus is guided by the principles of sustainable development. In the context of the campus renewal, the appointment of an innovation partner will be put out to tender to provide carbon-neutral electricity and heat locally for the next 10 years. The aim is to meet the university’s carbon-neutrality targets, to provide up-to-date experience for research and to minimise the life-cycle costs of the project.
Students entering the workforce, collaborative projects with businesses and research into sustainability will play an important role in helping Finnish society to make the green transition. The University of Vaasa wants to be at the forefront of accelerating sustainable development through science.