New record for renewable energy production in Finland

Finland’s renewable energy production is estimated to have reached over 130 terawatt-hours last year. The biggest increase was in the amount of energy produced from forest industry black liquor and by-products, which made up over 60 percent of total renewable energy.

According to estimates by the Finland’s Energy Authority, renewable energy sources produced more than 130 terawatt-hours of electricity, heat and biofuel for traffic in 2016. Irrespective of the calculation method used, the share of renewable energy of total end consumption is set to exceed 40 percent. This would be a new production record and about five percent more than in the previous year. The biggest increase in renewable energy production came from energy produced from forest industry black liquor and by-products, which made up over 60 percent of total renewable energy.

2020 target is 5.3 terawatt-hours of electricity from forest chips

In Finland, industrial scale use of renewable energy is promoted by the feed-in tariff administered by the Energy Authority. The target is that by the year 2020 forest chips will be used to produce 5.3 terawatt-hours and wind power 6 terawatt-hours of electricity. In 2016, the plants in the feed-in tariff system produced about 2 terawatt-hours of electricity with forest chips and almost 3 terawatt-hours using wind power.

“Our electricity system can cope with this amount of variable production as well as the additional 2 terawatt-hours of production proposed in the climate strategy. Maintaining the security of supply requires some measures, however, both in terms of technological development and market rules. The Energy Authority has increased the peak load capacity, demand-side management is under constant development, and transmission links between Finland and Sweden will be increased,” says Simo Nurmi, Director General of the Energy Authority.

The feed-in tariff system came into force in March 2011. Since then 161 power plants have been accepted in the system, of which 53 are forest chip plants and 103 wind power plants. The system has no specific quota for the number of forest chip plants.

“Finland has become a global leader in the utilization of wood-based biomass for energy production, thanks to our exceptionally strong forest sector and extensive investments in bioenergy R&D&I since the 1980s. We have here a unique platform for bio-based production and partnering,” says Jari Tielinen, Senior Advisor at Finpro’s Invest in Finland unit.

In 2016, a total of EUR 172 million was paid out in feed-in tariff subsidies, of which EUR 34 million went to forest chip plants, EUR 136 million to wind power plants, and the remaining EUR 2 million to firewood and biogas plants.