Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Finland has less windpower than Vietnam!

Finland Produces Less Energy from Wind than Vietnam!
Finland is a progressive modern country that excels in promoting equality, social welfare, and public health.  Unfortunately one area where Finland has undertaken not so progressive policies is in renewable energy.

In wind power, Finland does not even appear in the GWEC (Global Wind Energy Council) 2011 study of installed wind power per million people.  The middle income Asian country of Vietnam even has more wind power installed per capita than Finland.  Finland’s Nordic neighbors of Sweden and Denmark have embraced wind as a power source and are leading the pack with Denmark ranked first and Sweden sixth.  The burning question is why does Finland not do more to enable wind power when it has the same natural endowment as Sweden and Denmark, strong and constant coastal winds?

According to an EU study on keeping on track with EU renewable energy targets. Finland needs work especially in the area of subsidies for private consumers in developing renewable energy from solar and wind sources.  The study also reports that some onshore wind power projects have been blocked by the Finnish Air Force due to defense radar interference.  Modifications to the radars can be made but this requires extra government expense.
This is not to say that Finland does not deserve recognition for their progress in renewable energy.  A recent YLE article touts Finland as ranked third in renewable energy use of all of the EU.  This is true according the EU source cited in the article of EU statistics of Share of Renewable Energy in Gross Final Consumption however when you look at the breakdown of electricity production, Finland still has much work to accomplish.

As you see in this graph from Statistics Finland for energy production in 2012 renewables made up an impressive share of electricity use of 41%.  Most of this has come from hydropower, and biofuels from wood, peat and black liquor (a byproduct in paper pulp production).   I would submit that biofuels are less preferable to other renewables such as sun and wind because they are less carbon neutral: they must be burned to produce energy.  Also, black liquor depends on the paper industry which is vulnerable to price fluctuations in paper.  Therefore the Finnish government should support more renewable power from wind, a natural resource it has in abundance, especially in the coastal areas of Finland and in the North tundra. 
Instead of recognizing this potential for wind power, plans for a new nuclear power plant have been recently approved and the subsidies for wind power are on the cutting list of the new government according to the Finnish Wind Power Association.  This will make wind produced energy much less competitive on the electricity market.

My point here in renewable energy production is that a heavy reliance on biofuels is not a good long term solution.  Biofuels produce more emissions when they are burned which is still causing climate change.  Finland must adopt more progressive policies toward wind power, its greatest potential in renewable energy.  At least Finland could modify its defense radar systems in order to enable more onshore wind parks.

More to follow on these topics.  Thank you for your attention.  All comments and evidence based arguments are welcome.