Finland eyes world’s first ‘green highway’

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The Nordic country is planning to build a carbon-neutral highway, placing filling stations for electric and biofuel-powered cars, smart lighting systems and clean energy production facilities along the route.

The stretch of the E18 European highway, which links Finnish capital city Helsinki to Vaalimaa near the Russian border and is the EU's primary customs and border-crossing with Russia, may well become the world's first green highway.

The municipality of Loviisa is currently studying whether the project is feasible. Its first phase started in early 2010 and the initial work was presented in a public forum in August.

Green beyond the highway

The project goes beyond the highway itself and is being undertaken to test the government's model for a "sustainable development corridor," integrating economic development, transport and the environment.

The idea is to include local economies in the project through local ethanol production from waste and other resources found along the route. Wind and solar electricity would power the cars and infrastructure along the way. Smart lighting systems and geothermal heat pumps are also foreseen.

The project aims to support the development and use of intelligent technologies to encourage smarter and safer traffic and transport. But the road will also feature traditional petrol and diesel filling stations.

Ready by 2016

Signatories engaged in the project include leading energy companies Fortum and Neste Oil, the cities of Loviisa, Porvoo and Hamina along the route, and Ensto, a technology company.

The project's preparatory phase runs until April 2011. Implementation of the ambitious project, the cost of which is estimated at €700 million, could start as early as in April 2011 and be completed by 2016.

The project leaders are planning to apply for EU support through the Trans-European Networks in Transport (TEN-T) initiative.




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