Finland’s ambitious Energy and Climate Strategy for 2030 and Beyond, adopted in 2016, builds on three key objectives: 1) stop producing energy from coal in 2030, 2) make energy production carbon-neutral by 2050, 3) replace traditional power sources with bio-fuels and renewable energy. In April 2018, Finland’s Environment Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen announced that Finland will ban the use of coal in energy production by law one year ahead of schedule, in 2029. According to Minister, “Finland must accelerate its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change. By phasing out coal-based energy production, we can significantly reduce the emissions from heating.” Finland’s coal exit is expected to boost investments in renewable energy and, especially, to increase the share of hydro, solar and wind power in the heating sector. Minister Tiilikained also announced that he will draft a subsidy package worth around €90 million to reward energy firms that will get rid of coal by 2025.
Although renewable sources accounted for 40% of all energy consumption in Finland in 2015, Finland lags behind its Nordic and Scandinavian counterparts in terms of transitioning to a clean energy supply. Nowadays, roughly 10% of its power is still sourced from coal. Abandoning coal will address health effects and air pollution, as well as energy dependency on Russian energy supplies (66% of the Finland’s coal comes from Russian Federation).
However, the accelerated coal phase-out is opposed by the energy industry. Managing Director of Finnish Energy Jukka Leskelä warned that “accelerating the phase-out of coal will be costly for the government and ineffective as a climate measure.” He added: “Punishing Finnish power plants, which are superior when it comes to energy efficiency, will lead to considerable unnecessary investments.”
Against the background of expected growth of energy consumption in the coming years, Finland will have to fill the gap in energy production (of course, together with energy efficiency measures). Finland’s energy strategy builds on massive deployment of renewable energy sources and nuclear power. It is worth mentioning that two new reactors are due to be connected to grid. A reactor Olkiluoto 3 will be Finland’s largest and will provide around 10% of the country’s power needs.