Finland Looks to
the Future of Bioenergy
don’t have to look far for
feedstock. But in a move
to defne its low-carbon
future, the nation’s
energy companies are
research programs to
develop future biofuels.
TILDY BAYAR, Associate Editor
Finland is, above all, a land of
abundant, and growing, forests. “We produce 100 cubic
meters of wood per year, while
50 cubic meters per year is harvested. We have more forest than
we can use,” said Jukka Leskelä,
director of power generation for
trade body Energiateollisuus, or
Finnish Energy Industries. So it’s
no surprise that, given an almost
complete lack of indigenous fossil fuel resources, high per-capita
energy consumption, and a long-running forest management program already in place, Finland is
investing in biomass and biofuels
in a big way as it looks to defne
its future energy mix.
The nation’s once-powerful forest industry has fallen on
hard times, noted Leskelä. Although Finland has traditionally supported a thriving paper and pulp industry, demand
for paper products has dropped, leading to factory closures.
This is good news for the bioenergy sector; wood that was
already slated for harvesting is now available for other uses.
The nation offers impressive support for bioenergy: a
grant for 30 percent of investment in anaerobic digestion
plants and 28 percent for compressors, an electricity tar-
iff (which varies based on market price) plus €0.50/MWh
if the project reuses the
heat it generates. There is
also a government target
to replace 10 percent of
the country’s natural gas
with biogas by 2025.
Leskelä admits that
“renewable” in Finland
means bioenergy, and
indeed wood-based biomass underpins over
75 percent of the nation’s
planned activities to meet
its 2020 climate targets.
But Finland is also a high-tech economy and, in
addition to an impressive
9 GW of planned wind
capacity by 2020 (
albeit no solar and no policy support for it), there is
30 percent of customers
at Gasum’s filling stations
choose the biogas option.
Credit: Tildy Bayar.