Finland?s wind energy sector is ready for lift-off

Finland is making huge steps to exploiting the wind power it has in the air, explained Anni Mikkonen, Executive Director of the Finnish Wind Power Association, at the Energia10 event in Tampere, Finland where EWEA brought its ‘Breath of fresh air’ campaign this week.

Two major obstacles to the development of wind farm have been addressed by the government and are currently in decision process with the Finnish parliament.

Firstly, the lack of feed-in tariff to support wind energy. This is due to change from January 2011, the government says. The Finnish Wind Power Association is certain that with a feed-in tariff a major hurdle will be overcome, although Mikkonen stresses that the tariff levels are quite low, making near shore sites the most profitable in terms of wind turbines.

Another issue has been spatial planning. Until now, two different plans had to be submitted: a local master plan and a local detailed plan. A new law has been designed now to only require the local master plan. This law proposal is with the parliament for decision as well.

The renewable energy directive setting a 38% target for renewable energy in Finland by 2020 was a big incentive for the government to review existing legislation, which also shows government expectations for the growth of wind energy in the country: from the existing 170 MW (which provide 0.3% of Finland’s power) up to 2,500 MW (which would provide 6% of its power).

“The politicians finally seem to have realised the potential of wind energy in Finland and are acting on it”, Mikkonen says. “We are happy to see the trust both in potential and industry, although we are convinced that the targets for wind energy could have been set even higher.”

She also stresses that there is still the matter of public opinion. Studies by WPD and Motiva show there is ‘not in my backyard’ thinking in Finland, but once wind turbines are in place this attitude is reversed.

“This is why events like Energia10 are so important for us to spread the positive messages about wind energy”, Mikkonen concludes. “Hundreds of people came to listen to presentations on wind and collect information on wind energy in Finland and Europe – the interest and enthusiasm is growing from year to year.”

By Elke Zander,