Finland’s future energy balance
Finland’s energy balance will benefit from the decreased need for heating and the increased availability of hydroelectric power. The first will probably be more significant, because the share of hydroelectric power in the total energy supply is relatively small. The decreased need for heating will lead to decreased consumption of electricity and fuels. Annual electricity consumption is estimated to be 1.5% lower in 2025 and 4.6% lower in 2100 due to warming (1).
At present 19.8% of electricity in Europe is generated by hydropower. By the 2070s, hydropower potential for the whole of Europe is expected to decline by 6%. For northern and eastern Europe, however, a 15 to 30% increase is expected (2). The conditions for increased hydroelectric power production in Finland may increase (2). Hydroelectric power generation is estimated to increase by 0–10% up to the 2030s, mainly due to large winter discharges (15).
Wind energy potential is also estimated to increase in Finland. There was very little information about how climate change will affect solar energy, though some estimates suggest that solar energy may be reduced as a consequence of increased cloudiness. Biomass supply is estimated to increase due to a lengthening growing season and improved potential productivity, hence increasing the amount of available bioenergy. The amount of potential peat production is also estimated to increase in Finland, mainly due to a longer harvesting period. Climate change has only minor impacts on the exploitation of fossil fuel and nuclear energy resources (3).
Finland’s future energy consumption
In Finland, about 20% of all energy consumed goes to heating. As a consequence of climate change, the need for heating is estimated to decrease more than 10% by the year 2030 (6) or by some 10% in 2021–2050 with respect to 1961–1990 (11). The need for heating will decrease approximately 13% by the time period 2021–2050 when the effect of the migration (directed to South Finland) is taken into account with the effects of climate change (6). The demand for heating energy would decrease 20–30% by the year 2080 (12).
The need of air conditioning would increase over 100% by the year 2080 (12). Total energy consumption would decrease about 2% due to decreasing heating demand by 2030 (6).
Finland’s future hydropower production potential
For hydropower production, the main issue is the resource and its variations: runoff and how it is distributed over the year. In Scandinavia the main inflow to the rivers and reservoirs is in late spring when the snow melts, and there is very low inflow during wintertime. This is why the reservoir management aims to save the water for high load situations in wintertime. Norway and Sweden have a much larger hydro power production than Finland, and the reservoirs have some capacity also for inter annual regulation (3).
According to climate models, there will be a change in the seasonal distribution of annual cycle of precipitation, snowmelt and inflow to hydro reservoirs. Climate change shortens winter, which leads to a thinner snow cover and decreased amount of melting snow in spring (3).
Spring runoff decrease will impact on the production and availability of hydroelectric power, not necessarily leading to a reduction of energy production. Less spring floods reduce the reservoir spillage due to diversion of flood water. This may result in increased energy production in hydro power plants. On the other hand, when precipitation increases, it may affect autumn floods when the need for diversion increases and it may reduce the amount of produced energy (3).
It should be possible to increase the amount of energy produced by hydroelectric power. The flood charting of water systems and the optimisation of regulation practices will be important. Increased winter runoff could perhaps make it possible to increase the capacity of turbines and water reservoirs if this is considered feasible, for example, with regard to environmental reasons (4).
Vulnerabilities - Finland’s future dam safety
Dam safety is crucial if the seasonal distribution of inflow to the reservoirs changes. It is important to be prepared for potential heavy rains in late summer autumn or even winter instead of keeping the reservoirs filled for wintertime after spring floods. Climate change will probably affect the long-term planning of hydro power. On average, the ability to predict the production of hydropower decreases, which makes hydro power more difficult to utilize (4).
The yearly variations in inflow to hydro power plants mayl become greater especially in southern Finland where snow cover will diminish or even vanish. The time of maximum runoff will change from spring to autumn in some rivers. For dam safety, the design precipitation will increase and the time of design floods will change and the magnitude of design floods will increase on most dams. Spring floods will decrease and summer floods increase and become the design floods in southern and central Finland.
The changed use of the reservoirs can have unexpected environmental effects as the present fairly fixed pattern of operation – empty in late winter, rapid filling in spring, high in summer and full in autumn – has to be changed to a more flexible mode (5).
Vulnerabilities - Extreme weather
Besides the effects of climate change on hydropower production and dam safety, climate change may affect energy safety in other ways.
Increase of extreme weather events is a potential hazard to the electricity transmission system. Severe power cuts have occurred fairly frequently in the Nordic countries in recent years. This might speed up the installation of earth cables in urban areas and the implementation of new measures to protect air cables from damage (5).
Peat production is very sensitive to weather conditions; in a rainy summer the production can be only a fraction of that in a sunny summer. The scenarios of variations of summer weather are still quite uncertain and estimation of the net effect of climate change on peat production is difficult. However, lengthening of the season seems likely (5).
Benefits for climate change - Hydropower potential
Climate change may increase the amount of produced hydropower in Finland by 7 to 11% (6) from the period 1961–1990 to 2021–2050. The increase is the highest in northern Finland. In Sweden, the increased runoff according to different scenarios will give potentially up to 40% higher hydropower production at the end of the 21st century (3). In Norwegian hydropower studies from 1990, it has been estimated that hydropower production will increase by 2–3% due to increased inflow and reduction of reservoir spill for 30 years ahead. A more recent study from 1998 suggests that hydropower production will increase by about 2.5% over 30 years (7).
One should be careful when comparing the results from different countries. These results have been obtained from different projects, using different models, scenarios and assumptions.
Hydropower potential variations within the rest of Europe
At present 19.8% of electricity in Europe is generated by hydropower. By the 2070s, hydropower potential for the whole of Europe is expected to decline by 6%. For northern and eastern Europe, however, a 15 to 30% increase is expected (2).
A study investigating the change in Europe’s hydropower potential up until the 2070s, according to different climate scenario projections and future water use assumptions, suggests an increase of 15–30% and above in Scandinavia and northern Russia (2).
The regions most prone to a decrease in developed hydropower potential are Portugal and Spain in Southern Europe, as well as Ukraine, Bulgaria and Turkey in the southwest, with decreases of 20–50% and more. In Western and Central Europe, the United Kingdom and Germany maintain a rather stable developed hydropower potential compared to other European countries (2).
Benefits from climate change - Wind energy potential
Wind share of total electricity consumption in Finland was 0.5% by the end of 2010. Overall in the EU, in a normal wind year, installed wind capacity at the end of 2010 meets 5.3% of the EU’s electricity needs (14).
The results from climate models suggest that wind power production in Finland could increase in typical production areas approximately 7%, and off-shore wind potential would increase 10–15% annually from the period 1961–1990 to 2021–2050. These results are based on changes in mean wind speeds (6).
Assessments made concerning wind power are uncertain firstly due to the uncertainty of the average values from climate change scenarios, and secondly due to the uncertainty of extreme cases, like storms and weak winds. The changes in distribution of wind speeds are also important for wind power production. If there is an increase in storm winds and weak winds outside the operating range of the turbines, the production of wind power may decrease (8).
No statistically significant changes in wind velocities in Finland have been found (9). A small increase in annual wind energy resource is projected for 2071 –2100 with respect to 1961 – 1990 on the 10 m wind speeds, and an increase in energy density during the winter season (December – February), but the uncertainty of these prognoses remains high (10). For northern sites the wind speed increase is more, so for Finland there is more probably an increase in the wind resource in the future.
Benefits from climate change - Biomass energy potential
The annual growth of forests may increase by 20% and the amount of logging may increase by approximately 15%. Accordingly, the potential of bioenergy may increase by approximately 15% (6)
Electricity export to other countries
Finland had approximately 30 % coal and nuclear power, 15 % bio fuel and 15 % hydropower production in 2001(13). Even though the climate model simulates a 14.6 % (1.8 TWh) increase in inflow, this will not have a major influence on the domestic electricity production since hydropower production constitutes a minor share of the electricity production in Finland.
Increased temperature will reduce demand for electricity, but this effect is more than offset by the increased supply and consequently reduced price. Finland is in general an exporter in the Nordic region. However, there is a major change in the trade balance in 2028, due to the postponed investment in a gas power plant. Finland will import electricity from its Nordic neighbours from 2028. Finland is only importing electricity from Russia (13).
Climate change impacts on electricity markets in Western Europe
The expected climate changes in the 21st century are likely to have a small impact on electricity prices and production for the energy markets of Western Europe. This has been estimated by modelling three climatic effects (16):
- changes in demand for electricity due to changes in the need for heating and cooling,
- changes in supply of hydropower due to changes in precipitation and temperature, and
- changes in thermal power supply due to warmer cooling water and therefore lower plant efficiency.
According to the model results each of these three partial effects changes the average electricity producer price by less than 2%, while the net effect is an increase in the average producer price of only 1%. Similarly, the partial effects on total electricity production are small, and the net effect is a decrease of 4%.
The greatest effects of climate change are found for those Nordic countries with a large market share for reservoir hydro. In these countries total annual production increases by 8%, reflecting an expected increase in inflow of water. A substantial part of the increase in Nordic production is exported; climate change doubles net exports of electricity from the Nordic countries, while the optimal reservoir capacity is radically reduced (16).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Finland.
- Kuoppamäki (1996), in: Marttila et al.(2005)
- Lehner et al. (2005)
- Kirkinen et al. (2005)
- Marttila et al.(2005)
- Ministry of the Environment of Finland (2006)
- Tammelin et al. (2002), in: Kirkinen et al. (2005)
- Saelthun et al. (1998), in: Kirkinen et al. (2005)
- Marttila et al. (2005), IPCC, 2001, both in: Kirkinen et al. (2005)
- Ruosteenoja et al. (2005), in: Kirkinen et al. (2005)
- Pryor and Barthelmie (2004), in: Kirkinen et al. (2005)
- Venäläinen et al. (2004), in: Kirkinen et al. (2005)
- Carter and Kankaanpää (2003), in: Kirkinen et al. (2005)
- Gabrielsen (2005)
- European Wind Energy Association (2011)
- Ministry of the Environment and Statistics Finland (2009)
- Golombek et al. (2012)