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Wind power in Finland

How much wind power can and should be built in Finland?

Finnish wind conditions do not set a limit to the amount of wind power that can be built. The amount of wind power that is feasible to build depends on how well wind parks receive necessary permits, how attractive developers are able to make their financial calculations and the electricity consumption needs of Finland.

Taking Finland’s EU commitments as a starting point, the Finnish Ministry for Employment and the Economy feed-in tariff proposal presents the target of building enough wind power by 2020 to provide 6 TWh of annual electricity production (Feed-in tariff interim report). This equates to approximately 2000-2500 MW of capacity, i.e. about 1000 new wind turbines. The Energy and Climate Strategy update in 2013 set an annual production target of 9 TWh of wind power by 2025.

From the point of view of developing the Finnish national grid, there is in any case a need to strengthen the power system because of the construction of several other new power plants. According to Fingrid, the addition of 2000 MW of wind power, a new nuclear power station, the aging of the network and increased electricity demand in Lapland will require 1.6 billion euros of network investments by 2020 (Fingrid press release 9.9.2008).

From the perspective of Finnish wind resources, the Finnish Wind Atlas shows that onshore and offshore wind resources are sufficient to meet the Ministry of Employment and the Economy wind power targets many times over.

From a land use perspective, current regional plans designate only a small proportion of the total potentially suitable areas for wind power construction, except in offshore areas, where there are reservations for wind power construction that greatly exceed 2020 targets. However, regional land use planners have been instructed to consider the needs of wind power in future regional plans and when making amendments to existing plans.

So, how much wind power should be constructed? From the point of view of society, wind power offers practically emission-free energy production using a domestic and inexhaustible energy source. There are, however, other good sources of energy. The number of economically feasible wind power investments is therefore dependent on the cost changes of competitive technologies. Wind power technology is still developing very rapidly and so it is impossible to forecast how low costs can fall. Additionally, production costs vary, in particular due to local wind conditions. Once the best wind power sites have been utilized, it will be necessary to build on weaker sites and costs will rise.

As is the case with any energy project, investors will only make wind power investments if they are profitable. Interest in wind power investments grows as project uncertainty decreases and expected returns increase. Finland introduced a wind power feed-in tariff in 2011, whose level was calculated by the ministerial working group to attract the investments needed to meet the 6 TWh annual production target.

Sources:

Ministry of Employment and the Economy Feed-in Tariff Interim Report (in Finnish), 2.4.2009

Working Group Proposes Market-based Guarantee Price for Wind Power (in English)