Finland's environment minister said on 10 April the country would ban the use of coal in energy generation in 2029. The Finnish government is also looking into a large-scale subsidy scheme that will reward energy firms for abandoning fossil fuel ahead of time.
Environment Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen confirmed that the government would move up its plans for a 2030 ban on coal as an energy source to 2029. Helsinki will propose legislation in the coming year as part of its national energy plan for the next decade.
Tiilikainen is a committed advocate of moving away from coal and in January he even suggested that Finland could ban the fossil fuel as early as 2025. An impact assessment was recently commissioned to consider the date as a secondary option. In a press release, the environment chief nevertheless insisted that "greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced much sooner than initially planned to mitigate climate change".
EURACTIV reminds that Finland lags behind its Nordic and Scandinavian counterparts in terms of transitioning to a clean energy supply, as 10% of its power is still sourced from coal. Coal use is associated with human health risks due to bad air quality and it is one of the highest greenhouse gas emitting fuels.
From a geopolitical standpoint, abandoning coal will help Finland and, more broadly, the EU, cut its dependence on Russian imports, as 66% of the country's coal comes from its eastern neighbour.
But the energy industry was disappointed by the decision to confirm and move up the coal phase-out saying it would be costly for the government and ineffective as a climate measure.
Following these comments, the government announced that it would draft a subsidy package worth around €90 million ($110.9 million) that would be used to reward energy firms that get rid of coal by 2025. The idea is the boost investments in renewable energy and make better use of Finland's sizeable district heating network, which has the potential to increase the share of hydro, solar and wind power in the heating sector.
With energy consumption expected to grow in the coming years, Finland will have to replace coal in the energy mix with something else. At the moment, nuclear power is among the leading contenders to fill the gap.
(Writing by Becky Du Editing by Harry Huo)
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