Scenarios for Finland
Finland has a unique net position for the potential to continue industrial production without the use of fossil fuels. However, the material and energy demand for attaining such a position are larger than current thinking and strategic planning allow. To replace all fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal, peat) in their various applications in Finland, a great deal of new Finnish industrial infrastructure is required to be financed, constructed, and then managed. Four researchers created six scenarios for how replacing fossil fuels in Finland could be done.
The study was conducted by Simon P. Michaux, Geological Survey of Finland GTK, Tere Vadén, BIOS Research Unit, Janne M. Korhonen LUT University and Jussi T. Eronen, Helsinki University and BIOS Research Unit. It examined what would be required to replace the Finnish fossil fuel industrial ecosystem as it is now. The six scenarios developed show the different options for how the various solutions could fit together.
“Completely phasing out fossil fuels in Finland is possible, but it requires an honest assessment of all the pieces of the puzzle together, and how they are integrated. With the scenarios, we wanted to lay the research-based foundation for decision making in this very important challenge. Given the material and energy needs and the amount of available time, a significant reduction of societal demand for energy and resources is something that needs to be taken seriously in any future scenario,” says Simon Michaux, GTK.
Direct and complete Finnish system replacement would need around 140 TWh (see figure). For example, to produce this amount of energy would require approximately 7,400 new wind turbines (6.6 MW capacity) to be built.
As current annual wood harvests are already close to maximum sustainable levels, any significant increase in the provision of liquid biofuel from wood biomass is possible only by reducing the biomass volume used by the forest industry.
All 6 scenarios require some contraction of the existing forestry industry, where some biomass is harvested, but within recommended sustainable limits. Two studies of what was considered a sustainable annual biomass wood harvest were used. The National Resources Institute estimates a limit of 80.5 Mm3 for annual long-term sustainable harvests of wood biomass (Luke 2021). Another study recommended this annual harvest be limited to 70 Mm3 (WWF Finland 2015). Both recommendations were used in all 6 scenarios.
Climate change challenge can only be avoided with a rapid (within 10–15 years) end of fossil fuel use. In addition, the production of oil and gas are becoming more unreliable, creating bottlenecks and disruptions. Geopolitical events may cause the voluntary or involuntary cessation of imports from one or several international sources.
Summary of 6 scenarios for a non-fossil fuel future in Finland
Scenario 1: Full Spectrum Electric (Current footprint)
- All new power production and all transport electrical.
- To supply the extra 170.45 TWh, 131 new Lestijärvi scale wind farms constructed (1.3 TWh/a), i.e. 9,039 wind turbines of 6.6 MW capacity (59.7 GW in total).
- Required stationary power storage for buffer new wind generation station fleet @ 4 weeks’ capacity, 13.11 TWh.
- No extra wood biomass to be annually harvested.
Scenario 2: Max Biomass (Current footprint)
- Finnish wood biomass used as much as possible in CHP plants and for biofuels.
- ICE vehicles, including trucks, aviation and maritime shipping, all powered with biofuels.
- To supply extra the 49.72 TWh, 38 new Lestijärvi scale wind farms constructed (2,622 wind turbines of 6.6 MW capacity, 17.3 GW in total).
- Required stationary power storage for buffer new wind generation station fleet @ 4 weeks’ capacity, 3.82 TWh.
- Downgrade forest industry by -100% (assuming a harvest level of 80.5 Mm3/a) and still have a biomass shortfall.
Scenario 3: Hybrid 1 (Current footprint)
- Combination of electrical power from wind turbines with wood biomass fuelled CHP plants supplying all heating requirements.
- To supply the extra 138.67 TWh, 107 new Lestijärvi scale wind farms constructed (7,383 wind turbines of 6.6 MW capacity, 48.7 GW in total).
- Required stationary power storage for buffer new wind generation station fleet @ 4 weeks’ capacity, 10.67 TWh.
- Downgrade forest industry by -21.56% (assuming a harvest level of 80.5 Mm3/a).
Scenario 4: Hybrid 2 with Geothermal (Current footprint)
- Residential building heat through heat pumps sourcing shallow (300 m) geothermal wells; industrial heat through wood biomass fuelled CHP plants.
- Extra electrical power the same profile as Scenario 3, 138.67 TWh, 107 Lestijärvi scale wind farms (48.7 GW total installed capacity), 10.67 TWh buffer stationary storage.
- Downgrade forest industry by -6.65% (assuming a harvest level of 80.5 Mm3/a).
Scenario 5: No Action (No new capacity constructed; fossil fuels phased out)
- No new power generation capacity; all fossil fuels phased out. All new heating CHP wood biomass sourced.
- To meet the challenge, consumption demand for power consumption reduced to 50.5%. Half existing non-fossil fuel power production re-tasked for the production of hydrogen and charging of EV batteries.
- Annual distance travelled by short range vehicles and trucks reduced by 66%. Annual distance travelled by maritime transport fleet reduced by 75%.
- Downgrade forest industry by -10.25% (assuming a harvest level of 80.5 Mm3/a).
Scenario 6: Planned Sustainability (Managed footprint contraction 50%)
- Demand for power consumption reduced by 50%. Half fossil fuel electrical power generation replaced. Residential building heat through heat pumps sourcing shallow (600 m) geothermal wells; industrial heat through wood biomass fuelled CHP plants.
- 50% of non-fossil fuel power production re-tasked for the production of hydrogen and the charging of EV batteries (26.98 TWh). Annual distance travelled by short range vehicles, trucks and maritime transport fleet reduced by 50%.
- To supply the required extra 35.25 TWh, 27 new Lestijärvi scale wind farms constructed (1,863 wind turbines of 6.6 MW capacity, 12.29 GW in total).
- Required stationary power storage for buffer new wind generation station fleet @ 4 weeks’ capacity, 2.71 TWh.
- Downgrade forest industry by -1% (assuming a harvest level of 80.5 Mm3/a).
Associate Professor Simon Michaux
tel. +358 29 503 2158, email@example.com