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Wind power picks up speed in Finland

A wind power boom is underway in Finland. Hundreds of new wind farms are in the pipeline, although the state is looking to curb subsidies for the energy source.

Wind energy is used to reduce reliance on fossil fuel. Image: AOP

Last year, 153 new turbines were installed in the country, according to the Finnish Wind Power Association.

Some 700 turbines in Finland, clustered around the western coast, convert wind into electrical energy. In 2017 these turbines produced 4.8 terawatt hours, accounting for nearly 6 percent of Finnish energy production.

As costs associated with installing new wind farms decrease, some say wind power makes business sense—even if public subsidies to the sector end. Matti Rautkivi of Wärtsilä points out that Finland is now following in the footsteps of other countries like Denmark and the United States which are phasing out coal power with wind.

Competing with nuclear?

Professor Esa Vakkilainen, a renewable energy expert at the Lappeenranta University of Technology, says that today wind energy is 5-7 euros cheaper per megawatt hour to produce than nuclear power.

A recent study by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland found that modern wind turbines could supply all of Finland’s energy needs, some 86 terawatt hours.

The sector is increasingly dominated by big players in the energy industry. Vakkilainen says he wants the Finnish wind power scene take the lead from Germany, where home-grown wind farms have enjoyed success while serving the local population.

”I would like to see communities installing turbines to serve local needs,” Vakkilainen proposes.

Last year 110 wind power companies received taxpayer support to the tune of 200 million euros, according to Finland’s Energy Authority, a body charged with enforcing Finnish and European energy and climate policy.

A 17-turbine farm in Lapland owned by Metsähallitus, a state-run enterprise, and energy company Fortum received the most subsidies, totalling more than 8.3 million euros.

With wind farming becoming more established, some energy companies are now looking to offshore farms, such as in Kristiinankaupunki, where plans are underway for an 87-turbine farm.