Sitra has been contributing to the advancement of small-scale renewable energy production in Finland since the 1970s. These efforts culminated in several recently completed local energy projects.
Since 2009, Sitra has been implementing a range of local energy projects. These are designed to help Finns save or produce energy locally using renewable energy sources. The aim has been to boost the Finnish markets for locally generated renewable energy and smart demand-response services, while promoting business growth and the reduction of emissions in the energy sector. The key area finished in September 2013.
The advancement of local energy solutions has long been a cornerstone of Sitra’s policies and actions. In the late 1970s, Sitra conducted a series of studies on the possibilities of using solar power in Finland’s climatic conditions. A report published by Sitra in 1980, Solar power as a heating source in single-family housing areas, was used as the basis for planning and funding the Kerava solar village. However, this solar power project, the first of its kind in Finland, reached the conclusion that the technology was still too immature. Since then, the technological basis for exploiting local energy has improved immensely.
Worldwide, solar power markets have grown rapidly in recent years, with solar panel prices falling quickly. Consumers are increasingly generating their own energy. The Finnish public too appears to be interested in renewable energy – according to a survey commissioned by Finnish Energy Industries, nine out of ten Finns wish to increase their use of solar and wind power.
Sitra has contributed to the emergence of a local energy market in Finland, in close co-operation with the first wave of renewable energy consumers and various organisations involved in advancing renewable energy use. Investing in local energy is helping to create new expertise and jobs, increase exports and improve well-being. The international success of Finnish companies depends on there being domestic markets for the development of new solutions and business models.
Sitra has been engaged in identifying practices that would make the self-production of energy from renewable sources easier and more profitable, by mapping user needs, brainstorming service models and performing trial runs of turnkey service concepts related to group purchases and hybrid energy. These have demonstrated that the rollout of local energy solutions in Finland would prove fairly challenging, due to administrative barriers in particular.
To solve some of the challenges, in 2012 Sitra published a discussion paper on the barriers and solutions related to small-scale electricity production from renewable sources. Sitra has also been actively participating in working groups focused on breaking down these barriers and boosting the impact of energy-sector co-operation, by supporting the establishment of the Finnish Local Renewable Energy Association. Recent developments are lowering the threshold for local energy production. The future goal should be to gather all of the related bureaucracy behind a one-stop internet portal, which would provide consumers with a fast track to becoming small-scale renewable energy producers.
The Finnish Local Renewable Energy Association is one future contributor to the effort to carry local energy production forward. As well as influencing political decision-makers, the association aims to increase public awareness of local renewable energy and to simplify the procedure for starting up small-scale production. If you believe that local renewable energy is important, join the association!
Climate and energy-related challenges are creating the need for energy savings and local renewable energy production. Building regulations are becoming stricter, fossil fuel prices are rising and global warming is continuing. We need solutions that ordinary people can put into practice.
Senior Lead, Local Energy projects