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Finland's use of renewable energy at record level in 2016

According to Statistics Finland, total consumption of energy in Finland amounted to 1.36 million terajoules (TJ) in 2016, which corresponded to a growth of four percent compared with the previous year. The use of renewable energy sources grew by two percent, rising to a new record level. Renewables covered 34 percent of total energy consumption and according to preliminary data, barely 39 percent of final energy consumption.

Total energy consumption in Finland 1990–2016 (image courtesy Statistics Finland).

The share of renewable energy in total energy consumption was 34 percent in 2016. Wood fuels remained the biggest energy sources in Finland and their share of total energy consumption was 26 percent. The consumption of wind power grew by 32 percent and energy extracted with heat pumps from the environment by 23 percent.

The consumption of biofuels in transport, in turn, fell by 64 percent from the record level of two preceding years. Annual variation in the consumption of biofuels is caused by Finland’s biofuel legislation, which allows the distributors to fulfil the bio obligation flexibly in advance. Although the consumption of renewable energy sources rose compared with the previous year, their share of total energy consumption and also of end consumption declined slightly. This is because the amount of other fuels simultaneously grew more than renewable energy sources.

EU targets for renewable energy are calculated relative to total final energy consumption. Calculated in this manner, the share of renewable energy was barely 39 percent in Finland in 2016 based on preliminary data. Finland’s target for the share of renewable energy is 38 percent of final energy consumption in 2020, and this target was reached for the first time in 2014.

Coal on the rise, fossil gas declining

The use of fossil fuels grew by seven percent from the previous year and its share in total energy consumption was 38 percent. The growth was mainly due to a 24 percent growth in the consumption of coal (including hard coal, coke, and blast furnace and coke oven gas). The use of hard coal was extended to a new use in the process industry.

The 420 MWth/220MWe Hanasaari coal-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant in downtown Helsinki power plant started to co-fire wood pellets at the end of 2015. Commissioned in 1974, the plant will be closed by the end of 2024 and the site repurposed as a residential/recreational area.

The 420 MWth/220MWe Hanasaari coal-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant in downtown Helsinki power plant started to co-fire wood pellets at the end of 2015. Commissioned in 1974, the plant will be closed by the end of 2024 and the site repurposed as a residential/recreational area.

The use of natural gas declined by 11 percent. Finland’s first liquefied natural gas terminal opened in autumn 2016. Liquefied natural gas complements Finland’s natural gas markets both geographically and with new uses. The use of energy peat also went down by three percent from the year before.

Electricity consumption and imports rise

The consumption of electricity totalled 85.2 terawatt hours (TWh), which was three percent more than in the previous year. In 2016, electricity production amounted to 66 TWh or nearly as much as one year previously. The share of renewables remained on level with the previous year at 45 percent.

The water situation weakened towards the end of 2016 and the production of hydropower fell in Finland by six percent. Nevertheless, hydropower accounted for 24 percent of electricity production. In turn, the production of wind power continued growing strongly at 32 percent and its share reached five percent last year.

Solar power accounted for the biggest relative change in electricity production. It grew by 87 percent. Despite this, the share of solar electricity in Finland’s electricity production was under half a per mil. In all, 34 percent of electricity production was covered by nuclear energy.

Net imports of electricity to Finland amounted to 19 TWh in 2016, which is more than ever before. Compared to 2015, the growth was 16 percent and the share of net imports in electricity consumed in Finland was 22 percent. Most electricity was imported from Sweden, in total 15 TWh. Electricity imports from Russia increased by 49 percent and were 6 TWh last year. Almost all exports of electricity from Finland were directed to Estonia, amounting to 3 TWh.

Energy for space heating in Finland also increased 10 percent compared to 2015 to reach 26 percent of final energy use 2016.

Final consumption of energy went up by nearly five percent. The share of manufacturing in final energy consumption stood at 46 percent. The decrease in the volume of industrial output that has continued since 2012 reversed last year, which was also visible as an increase in energy use in manufacturing.

The use of heating energy of buildings was 10 percent higher in 2016 and its share of final use was 26 percent. Energy consumption in housing rose by eight percent, which was due to weather-induced heating need. In 2016, heating degree day was 14 percent higher than in 2015. The use of energy in transport rose by four percent and was 17 percent of final energy consumption.

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