The Energy Mix of Finland – Combining Differing Goals

23.11.2011 | Ajankohtaista, Puheet

– Secure energy supply without nuclear energy? –
21 November 2011, Tallinn Estonia

Affordable energy supply and environmental policy – an unbridgeable gap?

Distinguished guests and guest speakers,

It is a pleasure to be here in this conference that tackles a very important and topical issue: energy supply and tomorrow’s challenges. We have already heard interesting insights on the topic and I look forward to hearing the coming presentations. Moreover, I am honored to give you a presentation on the Finnish situation. As you may know, in recent years we have made far-reaching decisions on our energy mix. These decisions have demanded ability to combine differing and sometimes even contradicting goals. We need to ensure the security of energy supply, but there are also climate change and other environmental questions that need to be addressed. And of course, there is the question of money, or actually in these days the lack of it.

In Finnish energy and climate policies we can see many goals and principles. The ultimate goal is to replace harmful fossil fuels of foreign origin. But there are also others, such as 1) effective emission reductions, 2) cost-efficiency, 3) ecological sustainability, 4) security of supply, 5) self-sufficiency, and 6) moderate pricing of energy.

As there are so many differing goals, Finland deploys and fosters energy resources on a wide scale: renewable energy such as hydro, wind, and wood, low-emission nuclear energy and also peat that is used especially together with wood. And at this point we still need to use oil and coal, as well as natural gas.

In all these cases energy production causes environmental effects. We all know the effects of fossil fuels. On the other hand, in use of wood energy the effects on biodiversity must be taken into consideration. When deploying wind energy, the mills need to be placed in such areas where they do not cause harm for example to endangered sea eagles. At nuclear power plants safety and final disposal of waste must be assured. Peat production can cause effects on biodiversity and nearby lakes, and it is also a source of carbon emissions. Lastly, hydro energy causes effects to the river ecosystems.

As the environmental effects are various, formulating the energy mix must be done with care. To minimize the environmental effects the right balance must be found. For example we can’t put all our bets on wood energy as we must take care of the biodiversity questions and that the forests can grow also in the future. As without sustainable forestry the result could be a slow eradication.

That’s also a reason why in Finland nuclear energy is seen as one important part of the energy mix. It is a safe, reliable and cost effective electricity source and for that reason utterly important to the Finnish energy intensive industry. But of course it also contains risks. The Finnish nuclear energy companies pay utmost attention to the safety and risk management. Also the final disposal has been solved for two of the companies. As regards to the newest company, Fennovoima, the final disposal remains to be solved. The national solution on final disposal of radioactive waste, mentioned in the program of the government, can mean either exchanging information or sharing the storage space, or something between those options. There is also a big question about renewing the Fortum nuclear power plants in Loviisa. During this term no new decision – in principle for new nuclear power units will be given.

 Ladies and gentlemen,

Last but not least I would like to highlight energy efficiency as in many cases it is the best and most cost-efficient means to reduce emissions and avoid environmental harm. The Finnish government has taken a lot of measures to foster energy efficiency at all sectors of the society, e.g. housing, traffic, and industry. In Finland there are also a lot of activity on energy and environmental technology branch:  new technologies, energy efficiency innovations and so on. We see this as a branch that needs to be fostered by government actions. We believe it provides new jobs and it can help us solve the big global challenges, not the least thus provide substantial contribution to the CO2 emissions and further to the climate change.

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