Finland’s solar industry has made a breakthrough in recent years, according to one professor in the field, but the sector is still some way behind that in neighbouring countries.
Solar energy is considerably cheaper now than it has ever been before, and that’s causing an explosion in solar capacity. Even so, the country still lags behind the leaders in the field, such as Sweden and Germany.
“2015 was a breakthrough year,” said Raimo Lovio of Aalto University. “Solar capacity multiplied many times over in that one year. Last year capacity doubled, and it will probably double again this year. The same rate of growth will probably continue for the next two years.”
Lovio attributes the growth primarily to support from the Ministry for Employment and the Economy. Businesses get some funding to help cover the cost of investing in solar, with shopping centres and industrial producers particularly keen to install solar panels.
Farms and domestic customers are also keen to add solar capacity, according to Lovio, with the falling cost of the technology another incentive. A solar panel can, according to Lovio, pay for itself over the course of a decade.
“Panels can be installed on roofs cheaper than before, and in any case the cost of electricity has remained relatively high,” said Lovio.
Despite the rising capacity, Finland still lags behind competitors, with capacity at around 30 megawatts. That’s well behind Sweden, with 200 megawatts, Denmark with 1,000 and the world leader Germany with 50,000 megawatts.
“In Germany some 8 percent of electricity is produced by solar, the average in Europe is 2.5 percent,” said Lovio. “In Denmark it’s two percent and Finland is below one percent.”
In total Finland produces just under 40 percent of its energy from sources defined as renewable, with hydro-electric power and biomass topping the ranks of Finnish renewable energy sources.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Arctic nations sign scientific cooperation agreement, Radio Canada International
Finland: When it comes to electric cars, Finland lags behind Nordic neighbours, Yle News
Norway: Finnish fuel billionaire invests in Arctic wind parks, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: New wind and solar power station next to Russian Arctic oil field, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Northern Sweden cities on shortlist for battery gigafactory, Radio Sweden
United States: Alaska warms to solar power as prices fall and benefits grow, Alaska Dispatch News