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Green Energy

Can Finland achieve a clean and green future by 2035? ​ The Finnish government has set one of Europe’s most ambitious climate targets, but what will it take for this country to make the shift to green energy?

Finland has set a monumental target to combat climate change: achieving carbon neutrality by 2035. If so, the Scandinavian country would be the first in Europe to become climate neutral. Adding to this, in the most recent development, the Finnish government also announced a plan to achieve negative carbon emissions by 2040, a decade earlier than previously planned.

With 42% of its energy being produced through renewable resources, Finland is carefully planning and investing in the green energy shift across all sectors, with a major emphasis on nature conservation. This transition will not only help Finland become more energy self-sufficient, but it will also boost employment and revenue opportunities.

It’s a substantial task for any country to achieve such a huge challenge against climate change, especially when majority of its energy sector is still dependent on imports. Finland had already achieved the EU 2020 energy target of 38% of emission free energy consumption by 2014. But if they manage to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035 and negativity by 2040, they will be able to show the world the way forward.

Finland's Energy Reality

Finland has a long history of using bio resources as a source of energy. This has been due to the traditional use of wood byproducts from agricultural and industrial waste to produce bio energy.

A leader in timber production in Europe and one of the biggest producers of pulp, paper and cardboard, Finland has a vast forest industry from where bio degradable waste is collected. Asides from this, municipal biodegradable waste is also used for the production of bio energy. Due to this reason, bio energy produced in Finland represents over 30 percent of their gross energy consumption.

But unlike countries such as USA, Iceland or Italy, the topography of Finland does not allow redistribution of geothermal heat by groundwater circulation systems. Hence, Finland's renewable energy generation is dependent on hydropower, wind, solar energy and ground source geothermal energy with heat pumps.

While traditionally renewable energy has been traditionally harvested from hydropower, the past few decades have also seen major investments in other sources of renewable. Infact, the total percentage of renewable energy production has been gradually increasing over the years, from 27% in 2010 to 42% in 2022. Out of this, according to the most recent statistics from the Finnish government, hydropower constitutes to 4%, wind 2.8% and other renewable sources such as solar and heat pumps constitute to 6% of the total energy production.

Nuclear energy also plays a major role in the total energy production of the country. Constituting to about 18.4%, Finland´s nuclear energy is produced in five nuclear reactors across two power plants. Asides from this, nearly 34.5% of the energy is generated through fossil fuels and peat. This includes coal (19%), oil (7.1%), natural gas (4.3), peat (3.3%) and others (0.8%). In 2021, about 4.3% of electricity was also imported from neighboring countries.

As Finland lacks resources of domestic fossil fuels, including petroleum, natural gas or uranium for nuclear power, it is heavily dependent on imports of energy products from neighboring countries. With the current global fuel prices, this has a major effect on the per capita cost of energy in the country. According to official statistics, in 2021 the cost of energy imported from other countries was estimated at EU10.1 billion, despite a drop of about 6% in the energy consumption in the same year.

The value of natural gas imported also more than doubled in 2021, even though the quantity of imports were almost the same as the previous year. The cost of imported electricity multiplied to almost three times, even though there was only an increase of only 12.5 percent in 2021.

Obstacles on the Road to Finland Green Transition

Finland's cold climate due to its geographic location make it per capita energy consumption one of the highest in the EU. This combined with relatively long winters and periods of almost no sunlight vastly affects the generation of all types of renewable energy. As the demand for energy substantially increases in winters, Finland´s energy deficit continues to be compensated by imported energy and energy products.

Another big challenge for the Finnish government is to strategically reduce the use of peat. An organic layer of soil that consists of partially decomposed plant matter, peat is unique to natural areas known as bogs, mires, moors, peatlands or muskegs.

The problem with peat is that, in order to mine it, the site for the extraction needs to be destroyed to be able to start its industrial production.

As these peatlands are a key source for carbon capture, the extraction process makes it a fossil fuels much worst that even coal. According the most recent estimates, extracting peat generates more than 23 million tons of CO2 every year. This equates to more than twice the emissions produced in Finland by boats, roads, railway and air traffic combined. And this is when energy produced through peat only constitutes to only 3.3% of Finland´s total energy consumption.

Future of the Green Energy Transition in Finland

Finland now has one of the world's youngest sitting Prime Ministers. The leader of the Social Democratic Party, PM Sanna Marin´s driving force in politics is based around social welfare and achieving Finland's carbon neutrality target by 2035. Under their leadership, the country has ranked first amongst the world’s 193 nations in sustainable development both in 2021 and in 2022 in the UN sustainability report.

The Finnish government is also making policies that emphasize the use of renewable energy. The first set of goals to cut carbon emissions is to end the use of fossil fuels. Finland plans to do this by phasing out the use of coal for energy and cut the use of peat in half by 2029. They also plan to increase the use of biofuels for road transportation from 13.5% in 2020 to almost 30% in 2030. Major efforts are being made to significantly expand the proportion of electric, hybrid, or hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road by 2030.

As this transition takes place, wind energy will play a major role. With over 200 companies and organizations driving the wind power market, there are over 960 operating wind turbines and future plans include 13000 MW onshore and 2700 MW off shore projects.

Finland also aims to continue with their Nordic climate and energy cooperation to achieve carbon neutrality and position all the Nordic countries as leaders in international climate policy.

What is Green and Renewable Energy?

When energy is generated from a source that is limitless and it does not negatively impact the planet by releasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere, its known as green energy. This type of energy is often generated from renewable energy technologies such as solar energy, wind power, geothermal energy, biomass, and hydroelectric power.

Not all sources used by the renewable energy industry are green. For example, power generation that burns organic material from sustainable forests may be renewable, but it is not necessarily green.

Since the industrial revolution, the usage of fossil fuels has resulted in the trapping of toxic gases in the earth's atmosphere, which traps heat and causes the greenhouse effect. Green and renewable energy sources contrary to fossil fuels, emit minimal or no emissions.


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