Renewable energy in Finland

Renewable energy in Finland

Renewable energy in Finland of electricity was (2005): Water 60 %, forest industry black liquor 22 %, other wood residues 16 %, wind power 0.2 % and other RE 1 %. The European objectives are: 22 % renewable source electricity and 12% renewable of primary energy in 2010 (directive and white paper). This includes e.g. the objectives of 40 GW wind power, 3 GW PV and 5.75 % biofuels (2010). The wind power objective was reached in 2005. The leading wind power countries have set new, more ambitious goals.

Energy in Finland

The energy consumption increased 44 % in electricity and 30 % in the total energy use 1990-2006. The increase in electricity consumption 15 000 GWh (1995-2005) was more than the total water power capacity. The electricity consumption increased almost equally in all sectors (industry, homes and services). The share of renewable electricity in Finland has been stable (1998-2005): 11-12 % plus yearly changing water power, together around 24-27 %. The RE of total energy has been 24 % (1998-2005). The forest industry black liquor and forest industry wood burning were 57 % (1990) and 67 % (2005) of the RE of total energy.Energy statistics 2006, Finnish statistical center, Tilastokeskus, energiatilasto, Vuosikirja 2006.] The rest is mainly water power. The most of available water power for energy is already in use. The forest industry uses 30 % of all electricity in Finland (1990-2005). Its process wastes, wood residues and black liquor, gave 7-8000 GWh RE electricity in 2005. In the year 2005 this and electricity consumption fell 10 % compared to 2004 based on the long forest industry strike. [ [ Greenhouse gas emissions in Finland 1990-2005] National Inventory Report to the UNFCCC 15.4.2007, Finnish statistics] Finland consumed (2005) 17.3 MW electricity per capita compared to Germany 7.5 MW per capita. This number includes the power losses of the distribution. The objective of RE (2005) of electricity was 35 % (1997-2010). However, (2006) the Finnish objective was dropped to 31.5 % (1997-2010). According to ‘Renewables Global Status Report’ Finland aims to increase RE only 2 % in 13 years. This objective to add the RE use with 2 % in 13 years is among the modest of all the EU countries. [ [ 2005: Record year for investments in renewable energy REN21] “Renewables Global Status Report 2006 Update”, REN21. 2006. (Paris: REN21 Secretariat and Washington, DC:Worldwatch Institute).]

The Finnish CO2 emissions grew 14.5 % (1990:2004), when EU average was - 0.6 %. [ [ Highlights from Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emission Data for 1990-2004] United Nations Convention on Climate Change] According to the Finnish RE organisations and Finnish public the potential of RE increase in Finland is huge.


Finland does not use feed-in tariffs, fixed premiums, green certificate systems or tendering procedures. From the European countries, Finland, Malta and Slovenia are the only ones (2006) that use only tax incentives to promote wind energy and other renewable electricity. Finland has no obligations or binding recommendations for the power companies to promote RE. [ [ Global Wind 2006 Report Global Wind Energy Council GWEG] page 16] The Finnish politicians and companies give all the responsibility of the climate change to consumers. The consumers are responsible to change their living habits with no support from the government. The Finnish government has not given any binding objectives with time scale for any source of RE.

In the elections individuals and companies can give legally and in secret unlimited amounts of financial support to the political parties. The Finnish politicians claim, that financial support has no effect in their decisions and it must be kept in secret. Many parliamentarians do not publish their commitments. The Transparency International has repeatedly criticized Finland and compared its corruption to the Belarusian one. [Kansanedustajan kytkökset – ketä kiinnostaa? Helsingin Sanomat 9.9.2007 A4] The party financing may have prevented feed-in-tariffs, green certificates and the RE obligations for the companies and promoted the nuclear power implementation.

Wind power

The European Union has the objective of 5.75 % of biofuels (2010). The biofuels report do not include the Finnish objective. [ [ Biofuels Progress Report] ] They are not published yet. The Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry report (KTM 11/2006) admits that Finland would be able to fulfill the 5.75 % objective. The ministry report does not recommend it, because of its expenses. The production price of biofuels in Finland would be equal to other EU countries, 3 cents pro liter. [ [ Liikenteen biopolttoaineiden tuotannon ja käytön edistäminen Suomessa] Työryhmän mietintö KTM 11/2006, 132 s]

The Finnish parliament did not consider bioethanol competitive in Finland. The director of Altia resigned as Altia's major bioethanol project failed; increased costs made it unprofitable. However, the biodiesel production is investigated in a publicly funded research program. Partly state owned power company, Fortum, has informed that it will start the biodiesel production. Fortum is one of the major oil, nuclear power and water power producers. It received the water power in an M&A agreement years ago. Fortum is also a partner in the most wind power projects and the owner of the NAPS Solar Energy (or NAPS Systems).

Neste Oil produces biodiesel from Malaysian palm oil 170 000 tonnes (2007) and 340 000 tonnes (2008) for international use. [ [ Pääkaupunkiseudun busseissa kokeillaan biopolttoainetta] Yleisradio Television News 27.09.2007] According to Greenpeace Neste Oil is the first company producing biodiesel from the palm oil. It is also Finland’s biggest palm oil importer. The palm oil is bought from the biggest Indonesian producer IOI, and Neste has joined RSPO, a voluntary organization for sustainable palm oil production. Greenpeace has protested the use of palm oil, as the increased demand for arable land endangers rain forests and increases climate change as opposite to the original purpose. [Miksi juuri Neste Oil, Greenpeace? Taloussanomat 28.11.2007, s.3] According to Greenpeace, the climate change emissions may be 15 fold higher by palm oil biodiesel compared to the normal one. [ [ Greenpeace: Nesteen biodieseliä markkinoidaan väärillä ilmastohyödyillä] YLE 23.10.2007] Indonesia loses its rain forests faster than any other country. [ [ Indonesia menettää nopeiten metsiä ] Yleisradio Television News 24.10.2007] According to WWF already 80 % of all Malaysian and Indonesian Forests have been cut down. [ [ Oranki] WWF] WWF solution is restroration and re-introduction of native species. [ [ Rain Forrest Restoration] WWF] The public transportation in the Helsinki metropolitan area has decided to use the palm oil biodiesel of Neste Oil. In 2010 half of the busses will use it. Finnish government is supporting financially the biodiesel use. [Pääkaupunkiseudun busseissa kokeillaan biopolttoainetta, YLE 27.9.2007] Neste Oil biodiesel will be tax free for the public transportation until 2010. This is worth 7.2 million euros for Neste Oil and may diminish the share of other competing biofuels. [ [ VM ei verota biodiesel-kokeilua] Helsingin Sanomat 4.10.2007]

The taxation system creates a special problem for biofuels. Although diesel fuel is taxed less than gasoline, all diesel cars are subject to an additional "diesel tax" on top of the regular annual car tax, ostensibly for environmental reasons. Thus, only those that drive long distances annually have an incentive to opt for diesel instead of gasoline. However, biofuels are not accommodated to this scheme, and the government has met demands for reform with considerable reluctance. Also, alternative fuels are taxed especially hard, by default in the same way as high-sulfur fuels.


National car taxation was reduced in 2003. This reduced the public transportation ca 8 % and increased the annual sell of new cars 25 % from 120 000 to 150 000. In 2007 the government decided to further reduce the price of 80 % of cars. The average car tax is reduced from 26 % to 22 %. The new taxation 1.1.2008 will take the CO2 emissions into account. The petrol price is slightly increased. However, this tax reform is predicted to increase the number of two- and three-car-households and decrease the use of public transportation. [Bussiala povaa autoveroalen karkoittavan matkustajat & Veronalennus jäi puolitiehen, Helsingin Sanomat 3.11.2007, A6] The new metro line was considered as more urgent by 58 % of citizens than the new ring road (38 %). This Gallup research about the new traffic projects in Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo was made in 7/2007. It did not study the support of alternatives. [Pääkaupunkilaiset haluavat länsimetron ennen kehärataa, Helsingin Sanomat 23.7.2007, A9] Before 1.1.2004, there were practically no private CNG driven cars. Only at this point the legislation was changed so that only CNG driven Euro-4 OEM cars are not subject to heavy taxation and the number of such cars has been increasing slowly. LPG and E85 driven cars are still subject to heavy taxes and fines making it de facto not possible to use such or any other alternative fuel cars except electric cars in Finland.

The student and pensioner discount is 50 % in the public transport in the Helsinki metropolitan area in 2007. As one alternative YTV suggests to drop the discount to 30 % and to limit it to students under 25-years and pensioners over 70-years. [Opiskelija-alennus halutaan sitoa ikään, Länsiväylä 28.11.2007, s. 14.] Public transport in the Helsinki metropolitan area is the most important in Finland. Public transport in the Helsinki metropolitan area includes (zone 1): Helsinki, (zone2): Espoo + Kauniainen + Vantaa and (zone 3): Kerava + Kirkkonummi. As the cities form a single metropolitan area, a 2-zone-travel may take less than 10 minutes. Fares for a single area tickets are 2007 :
# zone 1: 1.8-2.1 € (tourists 2,2-2.4 €)
# zone 2: 3,2 € (tourists 3,60 €)
# zone 3: 5.3 € (tourists 6 €).

There are no restrictions or pay duties for cars in the Helsinki metropolitan area in 2007. The new underground parking lots and road passages have been actively promoted by the Helsinki town leder Jussi Pajunen and Espoo town administration during 2006-2007. Jussi Pajunen wants to promote the use of private cars in the Helsinki city center. [Kylläpä Pajunen keksi fantastisen idean!, Helsingin Sanomat 21.11.2007 C6] This statement aroused criticism. Thereafter he gave some less car intensive statements.


Finnish politicians and industry actively promote the fuel production from peat. According to European Union and IPCC peat is not biofuel as claimed but have equal CO2 emissions to coal. [ [ 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] ] The EU also promotes the protection of swamps from ecological disasters. The Finnish peat company Vapo Oy is owned by the state (50.1 %) and the forest industry company Metsäliitto (49.9 %)(including Metsä-Botnia, M-real and Metsä Tissue and previously also Finnforest). They want to use the peat as fuel and dry the swamps as forests. The Finnish forest companies strive to reduce the demand of trees as energy source in order to keep the wood price low. This may also be controlled by having a leading position in the pellet production (Vapo). According to the Finnish ecologists and docents the swamps are important for water balance. Supporting research is made by the state institute. The university experts criticise this and Finland’s energy politics. [ [ Heikkilä, R.; Lindholm, T.; & Simola, H. (2007) Keskustelua: Turvetta suosiva energiapolitiikka perustuu kyseenalaiseen tutkimusraporttiin] Tieteessä tapahtuu 3/2007] Scandinavian peat was formed 10 000 years ago after the ice age. 1.1.2005 the European common carbon dioxide emission system was agreed, and according to the agreement peat is equal to fossil fuel. [ [$FILE/ET2006_43.pdf?OpenElement Energiläget 2006] Energimyndigheten pages 49-50, (in Swedish)]

Public attitude

According to the newspapers the people in Finland take the climate change very seriously and have a positive attitude towards the RE.

Table: RE of electricity

Table: RE of total energy

The renewable energy of primary energy was 24.0 % (2005) and 24.1 % (2004). Total primary energy supply was 392 022 (2005) and 418 672 GWh (2004). The primary energy includes in addition to the energy consumption also e.g. the heating up of the Baltic See by the nuclear power plant waste heat.

In the table is the contribution of RE to electricity production for the EU-25 by 2020.

See also

* Wind power in Finland
* Renewable energy development
* Renewable energy in Germany
* Renewable energy in the European Union
* Energy policy of the European Union
* List of renewable energy topics by country
* List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita
* Renewable energy commercialization


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