Offshore wind power in Finland offers enormous potential – Finns, Danes and Germans join forces
The potential of offshore wind power in Finland is enormous. The German and Danish Embassies in Helsinki, Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI), the Finnish Wind Energy Association and the German-Finnish Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum entitled “Finland’s offshore wind potential – cross-border opportunities for energy independence and green transition” on 8 December 2022 in the Tiedekulma, Helsinki. During its current Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, Germany has defined the expansion of offshore wind in the Baltic Sea region as one of its priorities. In addition, in Denmark at the end of August 2022, the members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States committed themselves to ambitious offshore wind expansion targets in the Marienborg Declaration.
(Photo: Getty Images / Monty Rakusen)
A question of political will
In his welcoming remarks, Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Ville Skinnari emphasised the transnational perspective of offshore wind power. An expansion of offshore wind turbines not only means greater energy security and energy independence in Finland itself, but also across borders. This makes an important contribution to combating climate change and creates new “green” jobs. Cooperation between partner countries in the Nordic region and with Germany was essential and required comprehensive solutions, said Minister Skinnari.
Jakob Nymann-Lindegren, Danish Ambassador to Finland, and German Ambassador in Helsinki Konrad Arz von Straussenburg also underlined this potential. German-Danish cooperation is a role model for transnational offshore expansion, especially with regard to the successful linking of the national power grids. The pace of Finnish offshore expansion will accelerate significantly in the coming years. Joint project development, shared financing and cross-border distribution of the energy generated will make it possible to achieve Finland’s own objectives, as well as EU (Fit for 55) and global climate goals (agreed in Paris) while offering economic advantages.
Finland’s key role in cross-border wind power expansion
In the first panel discussion, the Finnish Members of Parliament agreed that offshore wind power offer enormous potential in Finland and called for its development to be speeded up. With a total potential of 15 GW from offshore wind power, Finland has the opportunity to attain energy self-sufficiency and to become an energy exporter.
In order to achieve its climate goals (CO2 neutrality by 2045), Germany is planning, among other things, a rapid ramp-up of the hydrogen economy – but will have to import 85 percent of green hydrogen. Finland, among other countries, could fill this gap in the market by expanding offshore wind power.
Industrial sector and investors all set
The industrial sector and investors encouraged the Finnish Government to play a pioneering role in the development of offshore wind power. “We risk missing our chance. We’re not ambitious enough yet,” said Finnish Member of Parliament Matias Mäkynen.
Business representatives called on the Government to become more active, suggesting that concrete long-term expansion targets be set, tax reform initiated and transparent and rapid tendering processes introduced. In the second panel discussion, investors and the industrial sector were unanimous in their conclusion that Finland could be a net exporter at the regional level and could play a decisive role in offshore wind power by exporting its expertise globally.
Matilda Machacek, Head of Offshore Development Scandinavia at RWE, was particularly candid: “We’re in a hurry! It may seem like we still have enough time. But we don’t!” The development of supply chains and the corresponding infrastructure takes a long time. Only then can concrete plans be drawn up. After all, the construction of the plants themselves only takes a few years,” said Machacek. “But you have to get there first.”
Energy security and market opportunities
“We have to recognise that countries need to use all the resources they have,” said Ida Holst Clausen, Senior Associate at Copenhagen Offshore Partners. Countries should strive for this not only to meet their own increasing demand, but also with regard to their opportunities in the market, said Peter Göpfert from the investment bank KfW IPEX. Offshore wind power was still an attractive business for banks – and good projects would secure financing, Göpfert stated.
Research director Petteri Laaksonen from the Technical University of Lappeenranta (LUT) presented regional case studies that showed the development of transnational offshore wind as a great source of potential for the export and use of electricity and hydrogen. In addition, the examples from the Åland Islands and the Gulf of Bothnia clearly illustrated the potential for decarbonisation and climate protection, said Laaksonen.
Conclusion: Offshore expansion offers numerous advantages
In a nutshell, the event demonstrated that offshore wind power offers cheap electricity, creates “green” jobs and has export potential. Setting the course for this expansion is a task for policymakers and administrations – the industrial sector, investors, partner countries and associations stand ready to implement this.