Wind to replace coal in energy mix -- About turn in Finland

Finland is assigning wind power a main role in future electricity supply as the country sets out to replace coal as a main source of electricity. The government is targeting 6 TWh of wind power by 2020, or 600 times the current level and roughly 5% of total electricity demand.

The goal is laid out in a November 14 inter-ministry report, Renewable Energy Potential in Finland, following release of a Long Term Climate and Energy Strategy (LTCES), approved on November 6. It envisions renewables' share of the total energy mix in Finland rising to 38% by 2020.

The LTCES specifies 3 MW wind turbines as key elements of the drive toward renewables. Finland's only wind turbine producer, Winwind, supplies a 3 MW turbine. Economics minister Mauri Pekkarinen says this is not "directly intended" to favour domestic producers. "Everything will be transparent," says Pekkarinen.

Grid investment

To clear the way for a planned addition of 2 GW of wind capacity before 2020, electricity system operator TSO Fingrid has budgeted EUR 1.6 billion for upgrading the existing grid network. The Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor, to be put into operation in 2012, will share this capacity.

The government believes that fixed power purchase prices are the most viable means of promoting renewable energy over the long term. It has established a working group to examine various regulatory models.

The November 14 report also seeks a cap on Finland's overall energy consumption at 310 TWh in 2020, to maintain it at about the current level. Electricity consumption would be 98 TWh, compared to 96 TWh today.

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