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F I N L A N D


Fingrid doubts major contribution from windpower
The head of the companty responsible for Finland's national electricity grid (Fingrid), Mr. Jukka Ruusuen, has criticised the Government's climate and energy strategy for assuming that Finland could cover part of its future electricity needs by developing 2000 MW of wind power. Ruusunen claims that since wind power production will not vary in tandem with power consumption, more of Finnish demand will still have to be covered from condensing thermal power plants. (The Danish experience might suggest otherwise: in that country windpower already covers some 20 % of electricity consumption, more than would be covered by 2000 MW in Finland. Denmark solves the problem of peak loads and low winds partly through domestic thermal backup capacity and partly through imports.)
Read more [28.11.08]


Vanhanen sees climate technology as antidote to recession
Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has said in an interview with national television that he sees investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies as a field for growth, and warned the EU against lowering its climate ambitions in the face of recession. Vanhanen compared the situation to the deep recession Finland suffered in the early 1990s, when heavy investments in research and development of new technologies helped pull the country out.
Read more [18.10.08]


In Finland, where governments have traditionally given given very high priority to industrial growth when shaping energy policies, an unusual debate is unfolding. The Government has now confirmed that it plans to cap electricity consumption at slightly above the present level (cf. story of 09.09). The Federation of Energy Industries has reacted strongly, saying in an apparent reference to current economic problems thet "now is not the time to limit consumption" but to deliver more energy at competitive prices. Meanwhile, former PM Paavo Lipponen has joined the fray by claiming that Finland will need all of three new nuclear reactors.
[10.10.08]


Finland could cut GHG emissions by 60 % within 2050, says study
According to a study by the Finnish Technical Research Centre (VTT), the country could cut its GHG emissions by 60 % from the 1990 level within 2050. Although this would require massive changes in the country's energy system, the study claims it could be accomplished at a cost of no more than 0.6 % of GDP in 2050. .
Read more [12.09.08]


Finnish Government, industry disagree on energy scanarios
According to the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, the Government's climate strategy, due to be presented later this autumn, will be based on the assumption that demand for electricity will level off at about 103 TWh per year in 2020. This would make further nuclear reactors - beyond the one now being built (Finland's fifth) and possibly one more - superfluous. Finnish Energy Industries disagree, and expect strong growth in power demand to continue, up to 120 TWh/yr in 2030. The Federation of Technology Industries is also worried and forecasts big losses of jobs unless more electricity is made available.
Read more [09.09.08]


Price tag for new Finnish reactor up by 50 %
The cost of the new nuclear reactor being built at Olkiluoto in Finland now looks set to come in at € 4.5 billion, rather than the projected € 3 billion. The project has also been plagued by major delays - the reactor was meant to come on stream in 2009, but is not expected to be ready until 2011. Part of the reason for the cost overrun is that the French contractor has had to deploy a bigger workforce in order to avoid still further delays.
Read more [29.08.08]


Majority of Finns against more nuclear plants
According to a poll just conducted for the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), 53 % of the population are opposed to building any more nuclear plants in the country, with only 34 % in favour. Men are evenly divided on the issue, but women are against by more than three to one. The question is very much on the table, as the responsible Minister has indicated that he wants applications to build a sixth nuclear plant submitted as soon as possible (story of 25 April).
Read more [09.05.08]


Pekkarinen calls for speedier nuclear plans
Finnish Minister of Enterprise and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen has called on the three companies interested in building a sixth nuclear reactor in the country to present their applications "as soon as possible". The three are Fortum, Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) and Fennovoima. The Minister, who had previously given the impression that there was no need to hurry until next year, is apparently concerned to have the applications soon enough to settle the matter within the present parliamentary term. Finland has four reactors operating today and a fifth nearing completion.
Read more [25.04.08]


IEA criticises Finnish peat subsidies
In a report Finnish energy policies, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has criticised the country's subsidies for peat-fired power plants. IEA Director Nobiu Tanaka says that Finland should see to it that these subsidies are temporary, and make greater efforts to develop bioenergy. Rsponding, Finland's Minister of Economic Affairs, Mauri Pekkarinen, repeated the country's official stance, viz. that peat should be classified as a slowly renewable resource rather than a fossil fuel.
Read more [28.03.08]
38 % renewables target "hard to meet" for Finnish cities
According to a survey of the 15 largest cities in Finland, only three of them think that they will be able to achieve a 38 % renewable energy share and cut GHG emissions by 16 % within 2020. Although these targets are binding only on Finland as a country, they could be hard to attain if most of the big cities fall short. Some of them are apparently hoping for an easy solution - namely getting the EU to redefine peat, which is widely used in district heating and CHP plants in Finland, as a renewable rather than a fossil resource.
Read more [01.03.07]
Finnish power companies eye protected rivers anew
The Finnish Energy Industries' Association has newly suggested that hydro-electricity could play an important part in meeting Finland's target of increasing its renewable energy share from 28 % to 38 % by 2020. Although the available resources are limited - the Association suggests that they might "realistically" contribute a further 1.3 TWh per year - it claims that using hydropower to regulate supply fluctuations would also permit more wind power development. The problem is that the rivers in question are mostly protected by law. Responding to a question in Parliament, Environment Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen has denied any intention of changing their status.
Read more (Swedish) [15.02.07]


Private saunas devour energy in Finland
One of Finland's national icons, the sauna, has also become a major consumer of electricity, reports the Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper. The country now has some two million saunas, of which 1.3 million are electric saunas in private houses. They add a full € 145 million annually to Finnish power bills. As an alternative, the paper suggests a return to the traditional wood-fired communal saunas - as offered by a sauna club in Helsinki which has so far attracted 3,700 members.
Read more (Swedish) - (Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net) [25.01.08]


"Finland 15 years behind on renewables"
The Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs, Mr. Mauri Pekkarinen, says that his country is "10 to 15 years behind schedule" in the field of renewable energy. A draft EU proposal would require the country to increase the renewable share of its energy mix by one-third. To achieve this, new measures to promote renewables as well as energy conservation will be needed, says Pekkarinen.
Read more [18.01.08]


Helsinki still to run on coal?
The municipal utility Helsinki Energy, which provides the Finnish capital with much of its power and district heat from the coal-fired Hanasaari plant, appears less than eager to switch fuels. Finnish PM Vanhanen has spoken in favour of using wood fuel instead, but according to the utility this would require it to consume all the avialable wood chips from within a 250 km radius of the capital.
Read more [11.01.08] Update 18.01.08: City Council requires 20 % renewable share by 2020


Finnish railways to go greener
The Finnish State Railways (VR) have announced plans to halve their CO2 emissions and cut their energy consumption by 20 % within 2012. The emissions reduction will be achieved partly by buying "green" electricity. Earlier this year, Danish State Railways announced that they would start running all their electric trains on renewable power.
Read more [07.12.07]


Finland to stagger car taxes by CO2 emissions
The Finnish Government has announced plans to make taxes on new cars dependent on their CO2 emissions. This follows similar moves in Norway and Denmark. Under the proposed Finnish scheme, to take effect at the beginning of next year, taxes on new cars would vary from 10 to 40 percent of their purchase price, making a difference of several thousand Euros in some cases.
Read more [03.11.07]


More nuclear reactors for Finland?
Three companies - Fortum, Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) and Fennovoima - are now independetly exploring the possiblity of building new nuclear reactors in Finland. Proposals from Fortum and TVO are already in the first stage of review by the authorities - a process that will take two years. Meanwhile, Minister of Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen has stated that Finland must shortly stop using coal and oil to generate heat and electricity. Finland currently has four reactors and a fifth nearing completion. They provide about a quarter of the country's power, while coal and oil provide one-sixth.
Read more (Swedish) [13.10.07]


Ban on light bulbs proposed in Finland
A group of MPs from the Swedish People's Party and the Green League, both of which are reprersented in the Government, as well as the opposition Left Alliance, have introduced legislation which would ban the sale of incandenscent light bulbs in Finland from 2011. Australia has previously made a similar move, and it is under dicussion at the EU level. Swapping all light bulbs in Finland for compact fluorescent tubes would save an estimated 1 TWh of electricity a year.
Read more [27.09.07]
Feed-in tariffs for Finland?
The Finnish Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Mauri Pekkarinen, who is responsible for energy policy in the Cabinet, has come out in favour of introducing a system of feed-in tariffs for green electricity. At present the state provides limited subsidies for electricity generated from new renewable sources such as wind power. Under a feed-in tariff scheme, utilities would instead be obliged to pay a premium for such electricity, thereby offloading the national budget.
Read more [07.09.07]


Government agrees on energy taxes in Finland
The Finnish governing parties have agreed to increase the tax on petrol by 4 Eurocents per litre and diesel by just slightly more, according to reports today. Heating oil and electricity will also become more expensive. This follows weeks of anger over Finance Minister Katainen's (picture) original proposal to increase the tax on diesel by twice as much as that on petrol. Katainen was attacked by transport operators as well as by some environmentalists, who pointed out that diesel-powered cars use less fuel than those running on petrol.

Read more [31.08.07]
Finland to increase energy taxes
The Finnish Government has announced that energy taxes will rise by a total of € 300 milion next year. According to the Government's climate advisor, Mr. Oras Tynkkynen of the Green Party (picture) the biggest tax increases should hit heating oil. How the increase will be spread among energy goods will be decided in ongoing negotiations over the budget between the governing parties. Mr. Tykkynen would have liked a bigger total increase, whereas Minister of Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen is reportedly holding back.

Read more (Swedish) [08.08.07]
Väyrynen claims climate concerns justify less protection of forests
Mr. Paavo Väyrynen, the Finnish Minister of Foreign Trade and a leading figure in the Centre Party, has sparked a row by suggesting that protected forests should be opened to felling. Part of Mr. Väyrynen's argument is that managed forests with their more rapid growth could store more carbon. This claim has been debunked by the Finnish Society for Nature Conservation.
Read more [25.06.07]
Finnish utility wants to develop protected river for hydropower
One of the two major power utlities in Finland, Pohjolan Voima, has announced plans for a new 155 MW hydropower plant on the Iijoki river. The Finnish Society for Nature Conservation has denounced the plans, which it claims would break the law as the river was given protected status in 1987. The new Finnish Government has previously come out in favour of more hydropower developments.
Read more [16.06.07]
EU cuts Finnish CO2 allowance, but Pekkarinen satisfied
The EU Commission has decided to cut Finland's proposed qouta of free CO2 emissions permits for industry and power plants over the 2008-12 period by 5 %, from 39.6 to 37.6 million tons annually. The Confederation of Finnish Industry is predictably disappointed, but Minister of Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen says he is "very pleased" that the Commission took special Finnish conditions into consideration by not imposing a larger cut.
Read more [09.06.07]
Finnish Finance Minister, PM disagree over climate burden
According to the Finnish Minster of Finance, Mr. Jyrki Katainen (Conservative, pictured) cutting GHG emissions will be expensive for Finland. A study by his ministry suggests that Finland will be among the EU countries to suffer the largest losses in jobs and GDP. Prime Minister Vanhanen (Centre Party) is reportedly not convinced, and less worried about the burden of cutting emissions than the "boundless" cost of doing nothing.

[31.05.07]
Green MP to co-ordinate climate policy in Finland
Prime Minister Vanhanen has announced that Mr. Oras Tynkkynen (picture), who represents the Green League in Parliament, one of the four governing parties, will be attached to the Government as a climate specialist. Mr. Tynkkynen will participate in meetings of the ministerial group on climate and have responsibility for co-ordinating policies in this field.

Read more [25.05.07]
Finnish GHG inventory shows marked drop in emissions - but trend is upward
The recently released official Finnish inventory of GHG emissions for the 1990-2005 period shows that they fell sharply in 2004 and 2005, to a level 3 % below that of 1990. However, this was largely due to high imports of electricity and a temporary drawdown of Finland's own fossil-fuelled power production. The underlying trend in emissions is still clearly upward.

Read more [11.05.07]
"New Government not fulfilling promises" - Finnish environmentalists
No sooner had the new centre-right Government taken office, than they were criticised for reneging on promises about climate and energy policy its parties had made on the campaign trail. According to Finnish news agency STT, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation is particularly critical of the Governments's programme for envisaging more use of peat and new hydropower development.

Read more [20.04.07]
New Finnish Government appointed
Following the recent elections (story of 20 March), President Tarja Halonen yesterday formally appointed a new Finnish Government. Mr. Matti Vanhanen (Centre Party) continues as Prime Minister, this time in a coalition with the Coalition (Conservative), Green and Swedish People's parties. Mr. Mauri Pekkarinen will retain the Trade and Industry portfolio, with responsibility for energy, while Ms. Paula Lehtomäki takes over the Environment portfolio. Both represent the Centre Party.

Read more [20.04.07]
Fortum ponders new nuclear reactor
The Finnish energy company Fortum has announced that it is starting an environmental impact assessment of a possible new nuclear reactor at Loviisa. This would be the third reactor at the Loviisa plant and the sixth in Finland. According to company Vice President Tapio Kuula, no decision has been made to go ahead - Fortum is merely "raising its preparedness" to build a new reactor. Finland's fifth reactor, currently being built at Olkiluoto, was the subject of intense controversy.

Read more [30.03.07]
Conservatives gain in Finnish elections
The Centre Party of PM Matti Vanhanen lost four seats, but remains the largest party in the Finnish Parliament with 51 of 200 seats after the elections on 18 March. However, its coalition partner, the Social Democrats, lost 8 and retained 45, while the conservative Coalition Party gained 10 to become the second biggest party with 50. A centre-right coalition government therefore appears likely. The Left Alliance got 17 seats, the Greens 15 and other parties a total of 22.

Full election results [20.03.07]
Finns favour renewables to save climate, says poll
A poll among 1000 Finnish adults shows that 41 % believe renewable energy sources like bioenergy, wind and solar energy provide the best hope of combating climate change, according to Finnish news agency STT. 22 % place their bets on energy efficiency, while only 12 % believe nuclear energy is the best solution. 6 % think nothing will work.

Read more [09.03.07]
New state energy utility in Finland?
High prices, profit margins and option payouts at Finnish energy utility Fortum, in which the State is the majority shareholder, have sparked political controversy, according to News Room Finland. A poll of candidates at the upcoming general election shows that six out of ten are in favour of establishing another State utility to compete with it. In 2006 Fortum made a profit of € 1,455 million on sales of € 4,491 million.

[03.03.07]


Finland against unilateral EU target for GHG emissions
The Finnish Minister of Trade and Industry, Mauri Pekkarinen, says that Finland is not in favour of the EU's setting a unilateral target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 % by 2020. The other Nordic EU members, Denmark and Sweden, support this target, but Pekkarinen claims it would hurt European competitiveness. Provided all industrial countries were bound by it, Finland would nevertheless support a reduction target of 30 % by 2020.
Read more [18.02.07]


Nuclear power "no long-term solution" - Halonen
While Finland is one of the few countries currently building a new nuclear reactor, President Tarja Halonen has made it clear that she would prefer not to see any more. In an interview ahead of her state visit to Australia, Halonen said that nuclear power was "not a permanent solution to climate change" and compared it to "an aspirin".
Read more [15.02.07]


Finnish Greens: "Quit oil by 2030"
Ahead of the general elections in March, the Finnish Green League has proposed that Finland should set a target of zero oil consumption by 2030. According to recent polls, the Green League is likely to get some
9-10 % of the vote, and Prime Minister Vanhanen (Centre Party) has hinted that he may invite them back into the Government, should he keep his post. The Greens left the previous Government in 2002 following the decision to build a fifth nuclear power plant in Finland.

[11.02.07]


Finland's EU presidency over: "Achieved most of our environmental goals"
The Finnish Government assesses the results of its half-year presidency of the EU as largely successful in the environmetal field. Finnish priorities were to advance policies in the areas of climate change, biodiversity, the marine environment, air pollution and waste, and to conclude a mid-term evaluation of the 6th Environmental Action Plan. Apart from this evaluation and the waste policy area, Finland achieved its objectives, according to outgoing Minister for the Environment Jan-Erik Enestam, who adds that Finland received "overwhelming praise" from the EU Commission for the conduct of its presidency.

Press release (Swedish) [10.01.07]

Finland gets new Minister for the Environment
Minister for the Environment Jan-Erik Enestam was succeeded at the New Year by Stefan Wallin. Like his predecessor, Mr. Wallin represents the Swedish People's Party, which has its electoral base among Finland's Swedish-speaking minority. Along with the Environment portfolio, Mr. Wallin has also taken over the position of Minister responsible for Nordic Co-operation. Finland will have the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2007.

Read more [05.01.07]

Goverment adopts Strategy for Sustainable Development
On 14 December, the the Finnish Government adopted the new National Strategy for Sustainable Development proposed by the National Commission on Sustainable Development. The Stragegy points out climate change as one of the three main challenges for the years ahead, along with global poverty and demographic change.

Press release (Swedish) [15.12.06]

Finland approves new Strategy for Sustainable Development
The Finnish National Commission on Sustainable Development has approved a new strategy for sustainable development. The strategy is targeted at helping various actors implement solutions for sustainable development according to a press release from the ministry of Environment.

Read more [20.06.06]

Emissions from Finnish fireplaces and boilers targeted
The Finnish Ministry of Environment reports that it has instigated a study on possible future emission standards for boilers and fireplaces using solid fuels. The purpose is to tackle, in particular, emissions of fine particulate matter, which cause serious health damages. According to the Ministry of Environment, it has been estimated that particulate pollution causes almost 350 000 premature deaths annually across Europe, including 1300 fatalities in Finland.

More on energy policy | Read press release [02.03.06]


Nearly 900 million euros for environmental protection
The Finnish government has earmarked EUR 895 million for environmental protection in 2006. This means 2,3% of the total budget, a fall compared with this year spending which is expected to be 2,6% of overall expenditure. In Finland objectives related to sustainable development have been well integrated into the work of environmental protection in general. The 2005 Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) puts Finland on top of the list of countries succeeding with the work towards sustainable development. The greatest challenge for the next year is to promote sustainable consumption and production.
[23.09.2005]
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Getting more from less - Proposals for Finland's national programme to promote sustainable consumption and production 
Finland's national programme is been produced as a result of the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2002`s decision to create a ten-year framework programme to promote sustainable forms of production and consumption. The programme is one of the first such national programme to be drafted in the world, and have been drafted for the Government by the "KULTU Committee". The key objectives are to increase the efficiency of the usage of materials and energy through all stages of product life cycles, and to promote environmental education and the development and adoption of environmental technologies[24.06.2005]
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International SD research conference in June
11th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference will be arranged 6-8 June in Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland. The list of participants now covers 40 countries. The speakers include international experts on sustainable development research and practice, experts on developing and developed countries, and those working for the implementation of corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility strategies. [06.05.2005]
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New partnership model launched at high-level meeting
Helsinki process proposes new model for partnership between governments, business and civil society. The High-Level Helsinki Group's Co-Chair, Mr Erkki Tuomioja, Foreign Minister of Finland is among those urging for the co-ordinated action of all stakeholders to achieve the objectives of the UN Millennium Declaration whilst also extending the horizon for analysis and action beyond the scope of the Millennium Development Goals.
[06.05.2005]
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European research project on chemical risks launched
Of the 2500 most abundantly produced chemicals in the European Union, only some three percent are properly known concerning their effects on the environment and the human health. The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) participates in the NoMiracle research project which examines the joint effects of chemicals on the environment and the human health. The five-year project has participators from 43 research institutes in 17 countries. It is co-ordinated by the Danish Environmental Research Institute NERI. [11.04.2005]
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Finland on top of sustainability index
The 2005 Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) puts Finland on top of the list of the world's most environmentally sustainable countries. 146 countries are ranked based on eg. pollution, natural resources and the ability to improve environmental policies over time. Finland is followed by Norway, Uruguay, Sweden and Iceland. [09.02.2005]
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EU commission approves Finnish Natura 2000 sites 
The European Commission has approved proposals from Finland and Sweden for the two countries' national networks of Natura 2000 sites within the boreal biogeographic region. Finland's newly approved proposals for the Natura 2000 Network include 1,620 sites of community importance (SCIs) in the boreal biogeographic region, covering a total area of about 40,000 sq km. [09.02.2005]
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