HELSINKI – Russia gas supplies to Finland have never been interrupted and the two countries share close relations but the Scandinavian country is planning to connect to the European Gas Network and create new gas market opportunities, Herkko Plit, Deputy Director General of the Energy Department at Finland’s Employment and Economy Ministry, told New Europe.
“Currently we’re 100 percent dependent on Russian gas and we want to create the diversified gas supplies and the security of supply is also very important issue,” Plit said on May 10 in Helsinki.
“Gas is covering at the moment about 8 percent of our primary energy consumption so it’s relatively low and has been decreasing,” he said, adding that Russian gas Gazprom is the only company exporting gas via a double pipeline to Finland. He noted that 30% comes from nuclear and 35% from hydropower.
“It’s not only about Russian gas. It’s also creating the opportunities for the gas markets,” he said.
Plit noted that Estonia and Finland are planning to construct a pipeline connecting their natural gas transmission networks that will bring price benefits to customers. He added that developers of the connector pipeline have filed with the European Commission an application for financing.
“The Baltic connector will first of all connect Finland and the Baltic gas markets and we would also utilise the underground gas storages in Latvia,” he said. “Then we would also be connected according to Third Energy Package to the European Gas Network,” he said, adding that this would create new gas markets. New Finnish gas legislation will be going through the parliament next year, he said.
Regarding the part of gas in the country’s energy mix, Plit said it would depend on how the gas market will develop and the role of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the European markets. “It’s not only a Finnish question, it’s a European question – what is the future of gas here,” he said, adding that Estonia will build a regional LNG project. All these projects would improve security of supply in the Baltic Sea region.
Finland has two local LNG terminals that would serve the off-grid markets, which are under construction in the west coast of the country and one, which is about to start construction, in Hamina, in the southeast coast of Finland. “Those are foreseen for maritime traffic and industrial processes, all of great use then to enlarge the use of gas,” he said.
The Deputy Director General for Energy noted that Finnish energy policy is relying very much on renewables for the decarbonisation of its economy. Finland is the most forested country in Europe, and biomass plays an important role in meeting its energy needs.
“Our renewable target is quite substantial so at the moment we are reaching over 30 percent and target is 38 percent and that’s based very much based on biomass. Together with biomass and renewables and nuclear, we’re really targeting carbon free energy,” he said.
Plit referred to Finland’s typical cold and dark winters, especially in the north of the country where temperatures of minus 30 are the norm and the energy consumption is very high. “Our target is to increase our security of supply as regards to the electricity,” he said.
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