A wind turbine in Hanko, Southern Finland, on 5 January 2023. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has encouraged Finland to accelerate the build-up of wind and solar power capacity in an energy policy review published on Friday, 5 May 2023. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

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THE STRENGTHS of Finland in nuclear and renewable energy provide the country a solid foundation for reaching its ambitious climate goals, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA on Friday urged Finland in its quinquennial country report to accelerate the adoption of wind and solar energy, and diversify both industry and transport away from their reliance on oil and natural gas.

Finland, the report acknowledges, has taken major steps toward its carbon-neutrality target, including the build-up of onshore wind power capacity and start-up of Olkiluoto 3, the third nuclear reactor at Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant in Eurajoki, Satakunta.

“Finland is well placed to reach its goals because of the hard work and investment it has already undertaken in nuclear plants and hydropower – and the country is a frontrunner in several key energy technologies, such as batteries and heat pumps,” stated Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA.

“At the same time, Finland still has a high level of energy consumption in relation to the size of its economy, showing the opportunity for energy efficiency to help improve energy security and reduce emissions in sectors such as transport and industry.”

The country continues to face significant challenges, too, according to the IEA.

Fossil fuel imports continue to have a large role in areas of the economy including industry and transport, accounting for more than one-third of the country’s energy supply. The land-use sector turned last year – for the first time ever – from a major carbon sink into a source of emissions due to intense logging and slowing tree growth, creating uncertainty around the carbon-neutrality target.

The IEA said Finland should develop a contingency plan to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2035 also in the scenario that the land-use sector is unable to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as much as expected by the central administration.

It also laid out a number of other recommendations for Finland. The government should ensure that measures taken in response to energy price shocks do not clash with signals for long-term clean energy decisions and investment, accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles with a clear plan to expand the charging infrastructure, and devise a roadmap with a clear regulatory regime and deployment timelines for offshore wind power.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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