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Top ministers clash over plans to increase Finland's wind capacity
1 February 2008
Prime minister Matti Vanhanen and finance minister Jyrki Katainen -- the two key figures in the country's coalition government -- have clashed over plans to increase Finland's wind power capacity from around 100 MW now to 1800 MW by 2020. According to Katainen, the goals are "unrealistic." He heads the National Coalition Party. Vanhanen, from the Centre Party, disagrees. The goal is "a reasonable aspiration and one that we must seriously hope to achieve," he insists. The proposal for a 20-fold increase in wind power capacity has been put forward by Vanhanen's Party and requires that a market be structured to stimulate the needed investment. Katainen has no such intentions. "This government wants to do whatever it can to increase production from wind power sources, but the proposals that the Centre Party now advocate are simply economically and technically unrealistic," says Katainen. At current wind energy prices, the plan is "too expensive to consider or implement," he claims. Raising wind capacity to even 1000 MW "would require at least EUR 600-700 million during the next 12 years," says the minister. "This is unlikely to happen." Katainen adds: "We are restricted by limited opportunities, not just for wind, but for renewables generally. There seems to be a lot more potential to build hydroelectric power in northern Finland." Vanhanen counters: "Finland needs more electricity generation from wind power." The government is due to thrash out plans for a new national energy strategy this spring. "This will set more forceful goals for wind power and renewables generally," vows Vanhanen.
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