The introduction of Finland’s long-awaited feed-in-tariff system (FIT) for wind-generated energy in January 2011 marks a turning point for a government eager to release the untapped potential of the country’s wind power capacity. It also gives hope that the country can achieve the great increase in wind power growth required to meet targets.
Its long-term ambitions, published in 2008 and included in the national action plan, centre on driving interest and capital investment in onshore and offshore projects. The report sees installed wind power capacity rising to 2GW by 2020, with around 1.2GW offshore.
However, Finland is late out of the blocks in terms of wind energy, way behind its neighbours Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Installed wind capacity rose to 197MW in 2010, up from 147MW in 2009. Considering that just 4MW was added in 2009, last year can be seen as promising but capacity is still much lower than was planned. A government document in 2005, anticipated that installed capacity would reach 500MW in 2010.
Finland’s potential is not in dispute. A 2010 Prospective Wind Sites report identified the Gulf of Bothnia as a significant location for new onshore and offshore wind farms. The report observed that even if 30% of projects that had applied for planning permission between 2008 and 2010 were realised, they could add up to 5GW by 2016. An earlier evaluation pointed to suitable onshore and offshore locations for up to 15GW. Meanwhile, a 2009 survey from state technical research institute, VTT, said wins had the potential to cater for up to 35% of Finland’s energy needs by 2030.
The FIT is seen as Finland’s best hope of reaching its action-plan goals. The proposed level of these tariffs is €3.50 per MWh for 12 years, with a start-off bonus for projects that commence production within two years of the law’s implementation. The start-off tariff is pitched at €105.30 per MWh for the first three years.
The national action plan’s objective is that renewable energy’s share of total electricity production will increase to 38%, or 38TWh, in 2020. Of this, wind-generated production would account for almost 6TWh.