Facilitator of Regional Development
The current marketing campaign of the Arctic Railway is based on the success of Arctic resources extraction in Russia, Norway and Finland. Another approach is to associate the project with the telecommunications submarine cable that will connect Asia and Europe through the Northeast passage. Interests involved in such project goes beyond natural resources exploitation and should focus on providing appropriate transport infrastructures and diversified economic opportunities to northerners apart from mineral and fossil energy. Advanced de-icing solutions, remote services, subsea infrastructures, construction materials, cold proof equipment are technologies required to develop hybrid energy hubs and energy transfer networks. The share of renewable energies will represent 20 % of investments within the European Arctic between 2016 and 2020 (hydro, wind, bio energies). On the other hand, mineral, gas and oil extractions activities compete on the same level with 22 % while nuclear power reach 16% of total investments. Norway and Japan are already working on the so-called “power to gas” technology in order to store and transport wind and gas energies in the form of hydrogen between the two countries and using the NSR. Based on these information the Arctic Railway could also support the development and continuity of operations related to the production and transport of renewable energies from the Barents to Asian markets. Producing renewable energies in such harsh and remote environment will be facilitated by the development of self-healing structures, unmanned vehicles, and connected industrial equipment. Hence, the role of advanced nodes, sensor networks and data centers will grow. The emergence of an integrated Barents information system based on Arctic and sub-Arctic fiber optic cables, radio technologies and satellite constellations will provide state-of-the-art data analytics capabilities. From that perspective, industrial internet technologies could serve as a platform for creating new economic opportunities and enhancing traditional activities such as reindeer, fish or forest farming. Data management and renewable energies are also economic opportunities that will open up Lapland and remove disparities between south and north.