Finland plans to phase out coal by 2030 (Update)

November 24, 2016 by Matti Huuhtanen

In a move to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Finland on Thursday announced plans to phase out coal within 14 years, cut oil imports by half and substantially increase the number of electric cars on the roads—partly to meet targets set by the European Union.

The government unveiled the plans in its "Energy and Climate Strategy for 2030 and Beyond," that aims to make the Nordic country's energy production carbon-neutral by 2050 and replace traditional power sources with biofuels and renewable energy.

"Utilizing the potential of Finnish renewable energy to produce electricity at an industrial level is one of the central questions in achieving long-term energy and climate goals," Economic Affairs Minister Oli Rehn said. "The national climate and energy strategy decided today in the Cabinet meets the tough targets from a Finnish standpoint."

With a third of its land area in the Arctic and long winters, the Nordic country uses a quarter of its electricity on heating homes, and is required by the EU to cut emissions from housing, transport and agriculture by 39 percent by 2030. This means increasing biofuels and renewable sources, such as leftover products from the forest industry and wind power.

Last year, renewable sources accounted for 40 percent of all energy consumption and are estimated to reach 47 percent by 2030 with the proposed measures—not far off the government target of 50 percent.

Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner described the emission targets in the transport sector as "demanding," which partly will be met by increasing the number of electric cars on Finnish roads to 250,000 by 2030—from the current estimated 1,000—partly with subsidies. Also, biogas-driven cars will be increased to 50,000 from the current negligible number.

Imported oils, including petroleum, diesel, fuel oil and others will be halved during the 2020s compared to 2005 levels. Although the government wants to phase out coal, which produces 8 per cent of the country's electricity, it will continue in the near-term to promote burning peat, mainly because it's produced domestically.

The proposals, which need the approval of lawmakers, are due to be discussed in Parliament next month.

Explore further: A low-carbon Finland is a great challenge, but an achievable one

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1 / 5 (5) Nov 25, 2016
Nice carbon plans, but "Cheat With Peat" must be the new eco-slogan.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 27, 2016
Nice carbon plans, but "Cheat With Peat" must be the new eco-slogan.

They tried to tax peat, but that only caused the industry to use more hard coal.

At least peat is carbon negative in the long run, because it grows faster than they're using it. The complaint is that they're releasing large amounts of already sequestered carbon, but that applies to all biofuels. If you hack down yet another forest to grow sugar cane or switchgrass or whatever, or even just to burn the trees, you release CO2.

The point of forests as carbon sinks is that the trees keep the carbon in their bodies for hundreds of years. When a tree dies and decays, the CO2 is quickly captured again by the surrounding forest. When you replace that with fast growing energy crops it all goes up the sky, and as soon as it gets captured back in the plants you burn them again.

So, instead of spending a little time in the atmosphere and a long time in the trees, the opposite happens and CO2 levels rise.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 27, 2016
Overall, using a domestic/local energy source is better twice, because imported energy costs money which you have to cover with exports.

Imported energy is money flowing out of the economy, which needs to be compensated with money flowing into the economy, which as I said requires you to spend more resources and energy (=fossil fuels) to make an exportable product. A domestic source, you just need to pay your own people to extract it, which they then spend on the economy so you get it back - it basically pays for itself.

Ironically, wind/solar energy is not actually a domestic/local energy source, because most of the panels and turbines, and the materials thereof, come from China or some other outsourcing country. For example, USA (GE) has just 3.9% market share in wind turbines, whereas Denmark has 13.2% China 17.5%, and Germany 21.5% which means wind turbines in the US, or in Finland for that matter, are imported and therefore cause nearly their price in pollution.
1 / 5 (4) Nov 27, 2016
Yeah, and all them-there turbines, generators, transformers, boilers, cooling towers, reactors, and auxiliary equipment for coal plants and nukes is just found right there.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 27, 2016
Yeah, and all them-there turbines, generators, transformers, boilers, cooling towers, reactors, and auxiliary equipment for coal plants and nukes is just found right there.

Well, they're manufactured in the US, out of resources and energy made actually in the country, by American workers, and nuclear powerplants use far less material resources than millions and millions of wind turbines or solar panels per kWh of energy produced.
1 / 5 (4) Nov 27, 2016
Wind turbine blades are made here. Generators and controls are made here. To what to you refer?
5 / 5 (1) Nov 28, 2016
Wind turbine blades are made here. Generators and controls are made here. To what to you refer?

Yes. They are made, and many more are made elsewhere, and sold in the US.

General Electric makes 41% of the turbines, the rest are foreign companies.

But that's not really saying much, because GE too outsources parts for the turbines and the towers from places like China, Vietnam, Brazil, Germany... It's difficult to know what portion is actually being made in the US. On the other hand, some of the foreign companies do have manufacturing in the US for logistics reason - they don't import parts, they simply export the profits.
5 / 5 (1) Nov 28, 2016
Or what about solar panels?

Seven of the top 10 PV producers are Chinese and during 2015 over 50% of all PV solar panels shipped were manufactured in China.

China, China, China, China, Taiwan, China... even "Canadian Solar" is actually a Chinese company.

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