Magazine

More renewable energy!

The Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Kimmo Tiilikainen, promotes renewable energy at work and in his private life.

TEXT ARNON | PHOTO TEEMU KUUSIMURTO

Every one of us can contribute to the breakthrough of renewable energy, reduce the greenhouse gas emissions caused by fossil fuels and slow the pace of climate change. The Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing, Kimmo Tiilikainen, is also doing his bit.

–I have made a societal commitment to sustainable development and I try to promote the use of renewable energy in the choices I make every day. I always fill up my car with renewable diesel whenever it is available. For the last 20 years, I have favoured renewable energy when I have made new electricity contracts, he says.

One of the government’s spearhead projects focuses on carbon-free, clean, renewable energy: the intention is for this form of energy to account for 50 per cent of ultimate consumption by 2030. This is the second highest target in the EU, behind Sweden.

Finland is already among the world leaders in terms of utilising renewable energy sources.

– Our target for 2020 was 38 per cent, but we surpassed 40 per cent several years early, Tiilikainen says.

FLEXIBLE CONSUMPTION, SMART GRIDS AND BATTERIES

According to Tiilikainen, it is a major challenge to ensure that sufficient load-following power can be generated when the energy system changes. For example, as the proportion of energy generated by wind turbines increases, load-following energy sources are required at times of peak consumption to balance out demand when the wind is not blowing.

– It will be important to develop flexible consumption, which means that consumption will be automatically controlled in accordance with changes in generation. Smart electricity grids will enable things that were previously impossible. Industries and businesses will find themselves with major opportunities to make use of their load-following capacity. The electricity use of individual consumers can also be controlled according to their wishes.

Using batteries to store energy is also a factor in balancing out generation. The batteries are charged when electricity is cheap and the energy is used when it is expensive. Flexibility will reduce electricity bills.

“Smart electricity grids will enable things that were previously impossible.”

CONSUMERS WILL BECOME PRODUCERS

And how will the renewable energy breakthrough affect society?
– The goal is for it to be completely invisible in terms of basic societal functions, and it certainly should not cause any disruption. The most important thing is to ensure that sufficient energy is available, as society runs on an unbroken energy supply chain, Tiilikainen says.

In the future, there will be more generation units, as renewable energy is decentralized by nature. Some consumers may even be involved in energy generation themselves. For example, residents of detached houses may sell the surplus energy collected by their solar panels to the grid, and farms may use manure to produce biogas, which consumers can use to fuel vehicles.

Various sources of waste heat will be put to better use in the future by companies and industrial plants. They will help to reduce the dependence on fossil-fuelled energy, particularly for generating district heat.

– I foresee that the Finland of the future will make active use of new technology, and it will have ambitious climate targets, Tiilikainen adds.