A clear change taking place in the energy consumption of Finnish households
A clear change is taking place in the energy consumption of Finnish households. The increasing trend in energy consumption has now levelled out, and for the first time, the amount of energy produced by renewable energy sources and nuclear power has overtaken the use of fossil fuels. According to researchers within the Academy of Finland's Finnish Research Programme on Climate Change (FICCA), the changes in energy consumption are the result of decisions on the national level as well as the independent initiation of the use of new energy technologies by businesses, municipalities and households in Finland.
"The latest energy statistics and the National Energy and Climate Strategy are both indications that an energy turn-around is underway in Finland," Professor Raimo Lovio sums up. Within the FICCA programme, he heads the extensive LAICA project that focuses on the local use of energy innovations.
According to Lovio, there are many factors that point to a turn-around in the way that Finns consume energy. The increase of energy consumption has stopped; energy consumption has not increased in ten years and the anticipated increase by the year 2020 will likely remain minimal. Furthermore, for the first time, the amount of energy produced by renewable energy sources and nuclear power exceeded the energy produced by fossil fuels and peat in 2012.
"In 2012, for the first time, the carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and peat fell clearly below the level in 1990, which is the year of comparison. So, the era of reduction in greenhouse gases has begun," says Lovio. "Another benefit of the energy turn-around is that, by replacing imported energy with domestic energy sources, we will, in the future, improve the trade balance, create jobs and promote the export industry related to energy technology."
Wood energy and heat pumps successful – wind and solar energy on a rapid rise
Until now, the most successful technologies involved in the turn-around have been wood energy and heat pumps. The increase in the use of forest processed chips in the production of electricity and heat has been the greatest single factor promoting wood energy. Projects have also been proposed for the purpose of using wood to create new types of fuel for various uses. According to Lovio, wood will continue to be Finland's most important energy source, even if only a portion of these projects are realised.
Finland is one of the leading European countries in terms of the use of heat pumps. Already now, every second new single-family home is equipped with a geothermal system. These types of systems are also becoming more common for the heating and cooling of larger properties. Heat pumps have seen an increase due to the proactive approach of SMEs and the citizens themselves, without nearly any promotional public funding. "The newest aspect of the trend is that wind and solar energy, which have generally been on a slow rise, have now picked up momentum. The wind power capacity will nearly double during 2013. By 2020, the increase will be manifold. This is possible because of the subsidised feed-in tariff, careful placement of wind power plants and the development of marine wind power," explains Lovio.
According to Lovio, a turn-around in the field of solar energy is visible in a new attitude of the citizens and companies, as well as the Government. "Finland is seeing the development of a solar energy cluster that operates within both the domestic and export markets. Along with smaller companies, the large energy corporations have begun to sell solar energy solutions to their customers, and we're seeing the implementation of smart grid-connected solar power systems, which would be attractive to consumers. "
In 2012, the trade deficit for Finland's energy products stood at over 7 billion euros. As a result of changes in energy production and consumption, the deficit will shrink by 2 billion euros over the coming years. New jobs will be created in many fields. Solutions that improve the energy efficiency of our traffic, lighting and heating are being developed at a rapid pace. Energy solutions are the most promising aspect of Finland's cleantech exports.
As part of the Academy of Finland's Research Programme on Climate Change (FICCA), the LAICA project is being implemented as a joint effort by the Aalto University School of Business, the Finnish Environment Institute, and the National Consumer Research Centre. The project will continue until the end of 2014.
- Professor Raimo Lovio, Consortium Leader, Aalto University, firstname.lastname(at)aalto.fi, tel. +358 40 353 8242
Information on the Academy of Finland's FICCA programme:
- Paavo-Petri Ahonen, Programme Manager, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi, tel. +358 29 533 5005
- Tuula Aarnio, Programme Manager, firstname.lastname(at)aka.fi, tel. +358 29 533 5146
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Communications Manager Riitta Tirronen
tel. +358 29 533 5118