Finland has the potential to become a superpower in wind power
The Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry at the University of Helsinki is currently working on a study to determine the future economic potential of offshore wind power in Finland. The Port of Helsinki has made a donation to support this research.
Countries like the Netherlands and Belgium already use a lot of offshore wind power, and Sweden is also planning to introduce offshore wind farms in its sea areas. Jamie Jenkins, a doctoral researcher who is participating in the University of Helsinki’s project, is identifying the challenges and opportunities involved in the large-scale utilisation of offshore wind power in Finland.
“If conflicts on land become insurmountable, it’s natural to move energy production into the sea – to shallow waters where the turbines will be further away from housing and perhaps also from the migratory routes of birds,” says Kari Hyytiäinen, who holds the University of Helsinki’s professorship in the economics of Baltic Sea conservation and is Jenkins’s dissertation supervisor.
Finland has one offshore wind farm (Tahkoluoto) on the coast in Pori, but Jenkins will also be investigating the possibility of building offshore wind farms further out to sea.
“Finland has the potential to become a superpower in wind power. There is more than enough wind and plenty of space on both land and sea, at least for the time being.”
Jenkins’ doctoral dissertation will consist of three articles, the first of which is awaiting publication. It assesses the change drivers that will be important for the development of wind power. The other two articles will examine potential yet unpredictable major changes in society that may influence the development of wind power, and the transition paths that will enable visions of offshore wind power to be integrated into Finland’s energy system.
Data for the studies will be collected from stakeholder workshops at which experts in wind power, marine conservation and marine area planning will discuss future opportunities and attempt to reach a consensus. The expert groups will include representatives from the business world, research, regional administration and central government.
“Slowing down and adapting to climate change, and combating a loss of biodiversity, are global issues in which it’s important to understand the interplay between nature and the economy. We’re looking for cost-effective ways to protect the sea whilst also enabling the development of sustainable business in marine areas,” says Hyytiäinen.
In principle, wind turbines and port traffic will not be competing against each other in the Baltic Sea.
“It’s a question of space usage. The sea already has shipping routes, important conservation zones and fishing areas – and soon there will be wind turbines as well. The big question mark is how to arrange all of these activities in order to minimise any harmful environmental impacts and provide growth opportunities for all types of enterprises.”