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Low-carbon roadmap for the Finnish energy sector
Decarbonisation of the energy system is the ultimate enabler for cutting emissions across society. The energy industry’s roadmap reflects the on-going energy transition and its impact while it underlines that a low carbon future is based on clean energy, secure networks and a functioning energy market. Finnish Energy’s low-carbon roadmap argues that an emission-free, cost-effective, flexible and secure energy system is based on smart integration of different sectors and innovative solutions. While the emission factors shall decrease fast due to many factors acting together, the transmission and the production capacity must also be reinforced. The Finnish energy sector states its support for the government’s target to achieve carbon neutrality already in the 2030s and is committed to halving the emissions of district heat and the related electricity generation by 2030 (2018 being the reference year).
Current and target state
Based on the other sectoral roadmaps, in the low carbon scenario the total electricity demand increases 50% between 2017 and 2050 from 86 TWh to 135 TWh. The key rationale behind the increase is the industrial demand for electricity, which doubles by 2050. Meanwhile, the demand for district heating, typical for Nordic energy systems, declines from 38 TWh to 35 TWh.
In 2017, the Finnish electricity production total emissions were 8.5 Mt CO2 and district heat production total emissions were 5.8 Mt CO2. This means that the emission factor for electricity generation was 131 kg CO2/MWh and for district heat production 148 kg CO2/MWh.
District heating systems offer many ways to make the energy system more flexible.
The table below illustrates the estimated drop in emission factors and the major gap to bridge between the present (2017) and the future.
|Baseline scenario||Low-carbon scenario|
|Electricity, kg CO2/MWh||131||14||1||10||1|
|District heating, kg CO2/MWh||148||38||6||34||6|
Electricity emissions are estimated to drop as a result of technological development of low-carbon technologies, increased emission allowance prices, the Finnish ban on coal and the reductions in peat use for energy, demand for new services as well as phasing out the transition fuel natural gas and oil capacity. Furthermore, demand-side flexibility must be further developed to allow increased intermittent production. To meet the increased electricity demand, wind, nuclear and solar electricity supply is estimated to increase in the roadmap.
Cogeneration of heat, heat pumps, electric boilers, geothermal heat and district heating storages play a significant role in cutting the emission related to heating. The roadmap estimates that waste heat, geothermal heat pumps, and industrial heat pumps could cover one third of district heating demand although some reliance on wood-based fuels from forest industries’ residuals remains. In addition to flexible heat production technologies, demand-side response can be further enhanced with smart energy control systems and service platforms. New heat technologies, such as small modular reactors and concentrated solar power may also be available in the future.
Natural gas has only a minor role in Finland and the roadmap estimates that biogas and, from 2030s onward, hydrogen have a role in replacing the natural gas use in power generation as the current capacity is retired.
Needs and requirements
According to the energy industry roadmap, a low-carbon energy industry requires effective cooperation between companies and society. Significant investments are needed fast to expand the electricity production and transmission capacity (also across borders), which in turn requires a clearly stated demand. Implementation of weather-dependent energy generation requires efficient interconnections to cross-border electricity markets to balance the Finnish system. Low-carbon district heating, biogas, bio- and circular economy and electrification of energy intensive industries shall be promoted.
The policy efforts must focus on developing a stable and predictable business environment, sharing the risk of new technologies and building skills. The roadmap also points out that conflicting requirements of different administrative branches must be settled, and the permitting processes streamlined.
Future and positive impacts
A practically emission-free energy production has a handprint across all sectors that use the energy.
Did you know that...?
• Currently 85 % of the Finnish electricity is CO2-neutral
• There are approximately 400 power plants in Finland and more than half of them are hydropower