Finnish energy industry reacted strongly on January 7, 2018, against the envisioned governmental option to prohibit the use of coal in 2025 instead of 2030 set in the original plan.
Jukka Leskela, CEO of the national association of energy production, said that the use of coal would decline on its own during the next 10 years anyhow, but the move to speed up the process would increase the energy production costs, and either the customers or the tax payers would end up paying.
Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, said the process to give up coal as an energy source should be accelerated and the use of natural gas be favored instead.
Tiilikainen made the announcement following recent negative news about the Finnish carbon footprint.
Statistics Finland confirmed late last year that Finnish greenhouse gas emissions had grown by 6% from 2015 to 2016.
The key reason for the growth of emissions was the increase in the burning of coal in facilities that produce both electricity and heating for housing.
A total of 1.2 million Finns rely on coal for their heating through district delivery services. Major cities including Helsinki are using coal as one of the main energy sources.
Most of the coal powered energy plants are in municipal ownership. There are no coal mines in Finland and it is all imported.
Turning to natural gas
Noting that the emission created from the burning of gas is 60 % of the level created when burning coal, Tiilikainen said the government is investigating whether the use of coal would be stopped in 2025 instead of 2030 as earlier decided.
Tiilikainen said natural gas should be introduced as a replacement for coal for the short term. It would be followed later by biomass and biogas.
Local media said it would be a major policy reversal as the use of natural gas has declined in recent years and its taxation increased.
Tiilikainen said tax incentives should be in enacted in favor of natural gas in 2019.
New pipeline to be built
Currently, Finland imports all the natural gas it uses from Russia. It arrives through a pipeline system built in the 1960s and 1970s.
Tiilikainen underlined that new delivery options of natural gas to Finland will open shortly. One of them is the Baltic Connector line between Finland and Estonia. Finland is also building terminals for tankers to bring in liquid gas.
Groundbreaking will take place in a few weeks in Inkoo, west of Helsinki, for the gas pipeline that will combine the Finnish gas network with that of the 3 Baltic countries.
When completed in 2020, the 77-kilometer pipeline will open the Finnish natural gas market for competition.