Brazil and Chile

Why Finnish firms are 'very good partners' for LatAm hydrogen developers

Bnamericas Published: Friday, January 20, 2023
Why Finnish firms are 'very good partners' for LatAm hydrogen developers

The green hydrogen landscape in Latin America is encouraging the development of transcontinental partnerships between local players and foreign partners and offtakers.

BNamericas talks with Piia Nummela and Natalia Araujo, a senior advisor and advisor at Business Finland, a government innovation funding, trade, investment, and travel promotion organization, about the Latin American and European markets, what Finnish investors are looking for, and other topics.

BNamericas: How can Finnish companies and institutions help Latin American green hydrogen developers?

Araujo: Business Finland is a part of the economy and employment ministry. Our role in our respective countries, myself in Brazil and Piia in Chile, is to support Finnish companies in developing business partnerships in Latin America, and prospecting business opportunities in general. We have a very specific focus on the energy and sustainability sectors. 

Nummela: Finland has a lot of green hydrogen know-how. Not only companies but also universities, the research centers. And they would be very good partners for companies that want to develop green hydrogen in Latin America. We have had success connecting companies developing green hydrogen projects in Latin America to Finnish companies and universities that can help with engineering studies and other issues. Finnish companies can make great partners for these kinds of challenges.

Araujo: Beyond hydrogen production, Finland is interested in collaborating with hydrogen applications. Once we've moved past the production route question and the supply is available, the question is how it will play a role in the decarbonization of certain sectors, of heavy process industries. Finland has a lot of knowledge on this, and use-cases are in place, and could collaborate with Latin America to apply this knowledge locally.

BNamericas: How are the Latin American markets compared to European ones? Where are synergies between Finland and the Latin American countries that want to move fast?

Nummela: Chile has already established a national strategy for green hydrogen, and the new government is working on updating it. Their strategy is very ambitious, but one of the first things Chile needs to work on is the creation of a national market. They need to create that before they can export.

Many European countries, and Finland is no exception, have an existing market for hydrogen, it is already used in industries, and Finland already covers the entire hydrogen value chain. So there are good practices and experiences in Finland that could be useful for Chile. Another important topic, relevant everywhere in the world, is what's happening in Finland in terms of research and development within companies and universities. Finland has a lot of experience in this area with energy, and green hydrogen is no exception. This experience and know-how of Finnish universities and institutes can be very helpful for Latin American countries. 

Araujo: Latin America holds a very strong position in terms of green energy production, whereas in Europe you have a few markets with surplus green energy, like Denmark with wind, but other countries are focusing more on grey and blue hydrogen production and will have to import some green hydrogen. So we think Latin America can contribute with a green production route. 

BNamericas: What kind of interest are you seeing from Finnish companies to invest or participate in Latin American green hydrogen development or to potentially buy green hydrogen?

Araujo: In terms of investments, this is still very early stages, and so we haven't had any concrete overseas projects with Finnish involvement. It's pretty much a question of timing: the markets are still developing, the regulatory frameworks are still coming into place or are still being discussed, and so there are few possibilities yet. We know there is interest, and perhaps in the coming years we will see it come to fruition. Finland is right now focused on developing its market and expanding its national capabilities before looking into international investment.

Regarding offtake interest, this is not something that will come any time soon from Finland, but we have seen activity in bigger countries, such as Germany.

Nummela: Many Finnish companies are technology providers, so their role would be more in partnering up or helping in some part of the value chain of the hydrogen economy.

BNamericas: What are Finnish technology providers looking for in Latin America? How can countries become attractive?

Nummela: To attract companies, it's important to look at the market from the European perspective. Latin America is quite far away, so of course, it's not the first or the closest market on everyone's mind.

Chile has been very smart; they've been marketing the country and the opportunities that exist here. When speaking with Finnish companies, the result is that many of them are quite aware of what is happening in Chile. The country is on their mind when they think of green hydrogen. A strategy to make the country visible and to showcase the opportunities is very important. It is now acknowledged by many that Chile is the leading country in Latin America in terms of green hydrogen.

Araujo: A robust regulatory framework helps assure economic and legal certainty for international investors and political willingness to make the infrastructure investments these kinds of industries need. And openness of the local market to incorporate foreign technology, especially when the projects are for export, is needed. These are three key points that we believe interest Finnish companies that look at a Latin American country from the outside.

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