Finnish wind energy on the way up

Finland’s target for 2020 is to meet 38% of the country’s energy consumption with renewable energies. The main renewable energy sources to meet this target are biomass, wind power and hydro power. In the national renewable energy action plan, the target for wind is 2,500 MW in installed capacity. It is not much compared to the leading wind energy countries in Europe, but it is an ambitious target for a country that has currently got a very modest wind energy capacity – only 198 MW.

So far construction has been extremely slow in Finland, but there will be a change in speed from this year onwards since the feed-in-tariff was implemented in March 2011 and work to remove administrative barriers has started. About 100 MW worth of wind power will be installed this year, which is a good start!

The rise in interest in the Finnish wind power market could also be seen at the EWEA 2012 Annual Event held in Copenhagen last month. There were at least 14 Finnish companies exhibiting – that must have been a record! There were also plenty of Finnish conference and exhibition delegates listening to the interesting presentations and making important connections. It seemed that wherever you went there was always a Finn around the corner!

The Finnish Minister of Economics, Jyri Häkämies, who is also in charge of energy issues, visited the exhibition on the final morning of the event. The visit was a very important signal to the industry showing that there is a really strong political will in Finland to reach the 2020 targets. Minister Häkämies talked about the importance of wind power in meeting the Finnish 2020 targets and said that administrative barriers will be removed.

Like in every other market, wind power in Finland still faces challenges. One of these could be local acceptance. However, public acceptance of wind energy is very high – according to a survey carried out by the Federation of Energy Industries in spring 2012, over 89% of Finns would like to see more wind power installed. The communications academy organised by EWEA after the conference gave participants excellent ideas on how to work with local people to gain local acceptance. For example, I was really interested to learn about a number of studies the Canadian Wind Energy Association have made on wind energy and health. Moreover, information I gained from wind farm developers and other national associations will help me write a code of conduct for Finnish developers later this year.

Wind power in Finland

1997: 12 MW
1998: 18 MW (+50 %)
1999: 39 MW (+116.7 %)
2000: 39 MW (- %)
2001: 39 MW (- %)
2002: 41 MW (+5.2 %)
2003: 51 MW (+24.4 %)
2004: 82 MW (+60.8 %)
2005: 82 MW (- %)
2006: 86 MW (+4.9 %)
2007: 110 MW (+28 %)
2008: 140 MW (+27.3 %)
2009: 147 MW (+5 %)
2010: 197 MW (+34.1 %)
2011: 197 MW (- %)

By Anni Mikkonen, Finnish Wind Power Association,