Lots of studies but no action

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Finland's wind power sector ended the year as it started, with a myriad of newly commissioned and ongoing feasibility studies on possible wind plant projects but precious little in the way of actual start-ups. Once again, the government's target of raising installed wind capacity to 500 MW by 2010 looks like an overly ambitious adventure rather than a serious policy.

Just 6 MW were installed in 2003, in two projects at Kokkola harbour and Oulunsalo, by PVO-Innpower using Finnish Winwind 1 MW turbines, to bring the national total to 46.7 MW from 70 turbines.

Several projects are planned for 2004, but only a few seem likely to go ahead this year. Germany's Enercon is still searching for local partners to build one or more wind plant in the Lansi-Uusimaa area. The company has bought a 20 hectare site in Barosalmi and is negotiating land purchases at Hietasaari. Enercon hopes to erect three 2 MW turbines for regional municipalities at Baroensalmi and four 2 MW units at Hietasaari.

Meantime, environment and community groups are objecting to plans by Kotkan Energia for a 160 MW wind farm in the Pyhtaa archipelago -- one of Finland's best known west coast sailing and nature amenity areas. Even if permitted, the plant will not be commissioned until 2007, at the earliest. There is also local opposition to proposals by Alands Vindenergi (AVA) for the Nyhamn area of the Aland archipelago. AVA believes it can win this battle, saying its aim is to see a quarter of Aland Island's electricity supplied by local wind plant.

Also, Via Wind Oy has applied for site permits for three 2 MW turbines at Hogsara. The company, owned by the Mats Enberg family, is negotiating delivery with an unnamed Dutch turbine maker. Construction on the EUR 6 million project is not expected until the second half of the year.

Of the ongoing studies, Helsinki-based EMP Projects is investigating the potential for ten 2 MW turbines on the breakwater of Helsinki's new harbour, but does not expect to apply for a permit until 2006. The municipality of Maksamaa has commissioned a site study at Vastero for three 1.5-2 MW machines, with plans for commissioning by end-year 2005 if all goes well. And municipalities in Western Turunmaa are paying for a study to identify four to five sites to build up to 50, 1.5--2 MW turbines, the results of which are expected in March 2005. Two similar studies are underway by regional councils in ItaUusimaa and Vastanfjard.

The thin level of activity belies Finland's wind potential. A report jointly backed by the environment ministry and district municipalities near the Gulf of Bothnia and the Merenkurkku archipelago has identified six locations for large scale land and offshore development with potential for 5400-7600 MW. The report says full exploitation of the potential would result in wind meeting 40% of Finland's estimated electricity requirement by 2010.

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