Finland offers top level knowledge in biomass based energy, liquid biofuels for transport and wind energy components
The Finnish renewable energy market forecasts are positive with the goal aiming to increase the share of renewable energy to 38 % by 2020 (compared with 28.5% in 2005). These targets are based on the EU’s binding obligations. Key policy measures to achieve this include feed-in tariffs for wind and biogas and a 20% binding target for renewable transport fuels by 2020.
There are three key areas of expertise in which world class Finnish companies have emerged and have become global players.
Biomass based energy is a core strength and Finland is considered a global centre of excellence in this field. Indeed Frost & Sullivan reported that Finland is forecast to be the leading market in Europe by 2016 with an installed base of 2,765MW. Key players in the Finnish biomass energy scene include ABB, Alstom, L&T Biowatti, Metso Power MW Power and Foster Wheeler. There is strong linkage with the forestry industry with particular strength in fluidized bed technology and gasification research and development.
The paper and forestry industry has also been a pioneer of some truly innovative liquid biofuels for transport. Finnish oil giant Neste Oil Oil is at the forefront of developing innovative biofuels. Together with forestry & paper giant Stora Enso, it has established a joint venture company NSE Biofuels which has a test plant producing liquid biofuels utilising forestry residues. Another key player is UPM-Kymmene which is also developing biodiesel from energy wood products together with Andritz-Carbona. UPM-Kymmene is also developing bioethanol production from wastes together with VTT. There are also some specialist players, perhaps most notably ST1 produces which is developing bioethanol from waste. Finnish government policy intends to increase the share of renewable energy sources in transport fuels to 20 % by 2020.
Wind energy components – new policy measures have stimulated both the market and investment in new products and energy transformation technologies. Government plans call for an increase of wind power from current 0.2 TWh to 6 TWh by 2020. The revenues of the windpower sector were about 1 billion euro in 2008 of which export accounted for 90 %.
Finland has some players who are genuinely global reach e.g. ABB, WinWind, Moventas, The Switch and Mervento. It also has expertise in materials manufacturing with Ahlstrom manufacturing glass fiber and Ruukki which produces metal products for wind turbines. A key specialism is in low wind speed and cold conditions.
Espoo headquartered WinWind, established in 2000, is an excellent example of a company that has benefited directly from foreign investment when Indian group Masdar invested €120 million in September 2008. This has helped propel the company onto the global stage.
Research and support programs in Finland for renewable energy technologies
There are many research and support programs in Finland for renewable energy technologies. The Finnish innovation funding agency Tekes has increased its investments in renewable energy research programs from €10 million to €50 million per annum between 2005 and 2009. Tekes currently has three renewable related programmes. The sectors is also supported nationally via the Centre of Expertise Programme (OSKE) and the Strategic Centres for Science Technology and Innovation (SHOK) which includes the CLEEN centre, based in Helsinki. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the biggest multi-technological applied research organisation in Northern Europe, is very active in the renewable energy field in biofuels, bio-energy, fuel cells, solar and wind technologies.
Helsinki is the gateway for investment opportunities
There are many potential Finish investment opportunities for foreign investors in renewable energy technologies. These can be summarized as follows:
- World-class know-how in selected technology areas
- Sustainable transport fuels
- Fluidized bed combustion
- Wind power components
- Strong export driven energy technology sector
- Export of energy technology makes up about 8% of Finnish exports
- In Finland there are almost 600 companies who are active in the renewable energy sector
- Renewable energy has almost 30% share of final energy use
- Public support for renewables is increasing
- New subsidy schemes and transport fuel obligations can increase domestic market also outside bioenergy sector
R&D&I support through Tekes, VTT, SHOKs and OSKEs increasing
The Helsinki capital region is a gateway for foreign investors in the renewables sector:
- Most major companies have headquarters, which are located in the Greater Helsinki area
- Key networks are all present in Greater Helsinki area although this area is not the area where production facilities are located
- Access to governmental agencies and associations
- Research funding/Tekes
- Venture financing and networks is located in Helsinki area
- Good access to largest Finnish competence base
Finnish renewable energy experts braved the cold morning and gathered together on Friday 10th December in Helsinki to discuss the future business opportunities in the sector in Finland and how foreign investment can play a key role in the sector’s future development. The purpose of the day was to feedback the results of a study commissioned by Greater Helsinki Promotion and undertaken by GAIA Consulting.