Energy 2016: Rapid changes in energy policy


Gasum at the Energy fair 2014

The Finnish Government is expected to make policy decisions regarding its energy and climate strategy by the end of this year. Various alternatives are being modelled in order to achieve the targets of the Government Programme, the Paris Agreement and the European Union.*

“The objective is to achieve market-based development as far as possible, but political action will also be required in order to reach the targets of the EU and the Government Programme,” says Government Counsellor Anja Liukko of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

Anja Liukko will be among the speakers at the Energy Congress in Tampere on 26 October. The Energy Congress will be attended by leading energy experts and professionals, providing an excellent opportunity to find out the latest information about Finnish energy policies, the circular economy, transport and urban planning.

“We will be looking at whether the markets can change fast enough in order to achieve an emissions-free economy. The trend in the electricity market is quite clear for the near future; the price of emissions allowances and electricity will remain low, so there is little motivation to invest in renewable energy or new energy technologies. On the other hand, low electricity prices benefit industry and consumers,” Anja Liukko adds.

Bioenergy as part of the solution to climate change  

“Bioenergy is the most important energy source for achieving the targets of the Government Programme in terms of increasing the use of renewable and domestic energy. Bioenergy is also the most important renewable energy source on both the global and EU levels, and it is especially vital for Finland’s energy balance and the entire Finnish economy,” says Harri Laurikka, Managing Director of the Bioenergy Association of Finland.

According to Laurikka, Finland’s strength in the renewable energy business is its command of the entire bioenergy chain.

“Advanced biomass combustion techniques are being developed very rapidly worldwide, such as fluidised bed boilers in combined heat and power applications. Finnish companies already have strengths and successful products in this field,” Laurikka adds.

One of the challenges facing bioenergy, according to Laurikka, is the debate surrounding the sustainability of the bioenergy imported into the EU. The European Commission is expected to present a proposal regarding the sustainability criteria of biomass by the end of this year.

“This could create new certification demands, also regarding the use of Finnish forest energy,” Laurikka points out.

Speed of change is the biggest issue  

Among the experts at the “Emission Free Future – NOW” seminar at the Energy Fair will be Pasi Vainikka, Principal Scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, where he is overseeing the Neo-Carbon Energy project. According to Vainikka, the situation within the energy industry is changing rapidly.

“The timeframes in the energy system have traditionally been very slow, but now they are accelerating rapidly thanks to digitalisation. With the rapid technological advances in renewables and diminishing costs, the speed of change is becoming harder to predict. The big question is time, how fast this is going to happen,” Vainikka says.

Although there has been much talk about electricity and the price of electricity, experts agree that the heating and transport sectors will be decisive in combating climate change.

“Perhaps Finland is betting too much on biodiesel, as diesel-powered vehicles may eventually be banned and fully electric vehicles with ranges of up to 500 kilometres are entering the market,” Vainikka points out.

He adds that shifting from a traditionally government-influenced energy sector in Finland to a market-based system is easier said than done. Similarly, he feels that the opportunities presented by demand elasticity have not yet been fully utilised.

“The market economy requires efficient markets with many actors. In the future everyone could contribute to the power grid via the internet. It could also be asked whether Finland requires in excess of 12 gigawatts anymore. We have 3 gigawatts of demand elasticity among Finnish households and perhaps the same amount could be found among companies and industry,” Vainikka comments.

The discussion will continue at the free-of-charge “Emission Free Future – NOW” seminar, which will be held in English in Tampere on 25 October 2016.

The Energy 2016 event will be held from 25-27 October 2016 at the Tampere Exhibition and Sports Centre. The event will be preceded by the annual Bioenergy Day event organised by the Bioenergy Association of Finland on 24 October. The World Energy Council (WEC) Finland’s Energy Day event on 25 October will discuss energy strategies from the Finnish and global perspective. The Energy Congress organised by Expomark and the Finnish Maintenance Society Promaint on 26 October will present key issues, including energy markets, the circular economy, the environment and future solutions. Throughout the Energy Event, the Energy Fair will present over 350 exhibitors from 25-27 October 2016.

Further information:

Energy Fair: Nina Nurminen, Sales Manager, Expomark Oy t. +358 40 701 4183, 
Energy Day: Lauri Muranen, Director, WEC Finland t. +358 40 707 6637,
Energy Congress: Jaakko Tennilä, Office Manager, Finnish Maintenance Society Promaint t. +358 50 384 4545,

*The Finnish Government Programme envisages that the share of renewable energy will be increased during the 2020s to more than 50 percent and energy self sufficiency to more than 55 percent. Increasing the availability of bioenergy and other emissions-free renewable energy sources will play a key role in achieving these targets. The Government Programme also envisages that the share of renewable transport fuels will be raised to 40% by 2030 and that Finland will stop using coal in energy production and halve the use of imported oil for domestic needs. The target of the Paris Agreement is to achieve a carbon-free economy by 2050.