Arctic potential mapped

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Three Finnish researchers from Ekono Oy consulting company have identified 70 possible sites for 250 MW of wind plants in the country's Arctic mountain region. Although this is less than 5% of the area's physical potential at 14 TWh/year, it is relatively large for the sparsely populated area. Finnish meteorologists have already found wind resources in the Nordic mountains to be among the best in Europe, with annual mean wind speeds exceeding 8-9 m/s. Using these statistics and Acomputerised Geographical Information System (GIS), the researchers made site visits and discussed the wind energy development possibilities with local utilities, authorities and even reindeer herders to reach its list of "non-controversial" sites. Most of the projects were restricted to clusters of two to five wind turbines, but also included larger wind farms of 20 MW or more. Although Finnish wind developers have felt confident about solving cold and icing problems (Windpower Monthly, September 1997), Arctic wind projects are currently restricted by poor road networks, a weak power grid and vast areas of protected land.

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