Over 200 sites for 5400-7600 MW of wind power development have been identified by local municipalities in a study commissioned by Finland's environment ministry. All the sites are around the Gulf of Bothnia and the Merenkurkku archipelago in the mid-western part of the country. The best winds for large scale wind development were found in the far north of the region. The study looked at technical, funding and environmental factors connected to large scale wind farm development and investments. Offshore sites for at least another 100 MW were also identified. Key environmental factors considered included the visual and physical impact of wind turbines on the landscape, recreation facilities, tourism, and the fishing industry. Further studies, focused on 20 areas in the same region, include one year of wind monitoring at seven locations supported by the EU. Project leader is the Southwest Finland Energy Agency (SFEA). "The plan entails building a total of 100 MW of wind generating capacity along the west coast in lots of 10 MW a year," says SFEA's Anne Ahtiainen. The environment ministry has set a goal for 500 MW of wind plant to be built by 2010, up from under 50 MW today.
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