Finland will shift aid when onshore earns

FINLAND: Finnish state support for onshore wind turbines could become obsolete or be greatly reduced after 2015, when onshore wind is expected to be profitable, according to analysis based on government figures.

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The projections by the Helsinki-based University of Aalto are based on new state tax revenue intake forecasts and the government's strongly held belief that its feed-in tariff (FIT) system for renewable energy will enhance the profit-generating prospects of onshore wind farms. The government aims to launch FITs during the first half of this year.

Onshore wind projects in Finland have been delayed while developers wait for the FIT to be introduced. Municipalities are attempting to drive projects forward, particularly along west-coast regions where councils are offering so-called wind-zone sites to developers as part of wind-power-focused industrial investment programmes.

Ground check

"We are moving forward using common sense, which means looking at what kind of terrain there is in the various municipalities," says Heidi Saaristo, a landscape architect with the Southern Finland Municipalities Alliance. "Wind farms must not be too close to residential areas because of noise. On the other hand, they should not be in the middle of remote forests either."

Figures released by the Department of Economy in October suggest that a new tax-friendly operating environment for renewables once FITs are introduced may result in a rapid succession of capital-intensive offshore wind farms producing up to 4GW of energy by 2020.

The environment ministry believes a tax-friendly environment for offshore wind projects is needed to ensure that developers will not become discouraged by the high capital costs and more complicated permitting process connected to offshore ventures.

Several offshore projects are already being planned, with the most ambitious being state energy company Fortum's Bay of Botnia plans to erect up to 344 turbines of 3-4MW by 2016. Elsewhere, Helsingin Energia and Etela Pohjanmaan Voima are looking to erect up to 333 turbines of 2-3MW in the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Bothnia.

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