Helsinki Times 23.05.08
In Sweden and Norway energy consumption has not any more grown during this millennium. In Denmark all political parties have recently agreed on actions to reduce the consumption of energy. In Finland the growth of energy consumption is a law of nature which you simply cannot escape.
In the European Union natural gas and wind have been the two biggest energy sources for new electricity production capacity, for seven years in a row. In Finland the only realistic options for new production capacity are nuclear and peat. In other countries peat is a fossil fuel, in Finland it is renewable.
In other countries the share electricity produced by wind can grow to 10 percent and more before new standby capacity is needed to compensate the fluctuation of the wind. In Finland new wind turbines require new standby capacity already when the share of wind power is zero point something.
In some countries the power companies plan favoring intelligent fridges and other devices which can switch on and off according to the consumption and production situation of the grid. Intelligent meters tell the consumers if the consumption and price of electricity are high or low. In Finland we need to build big hydropower reservoirs on protected land to get the needed standby capacity.
Globally new wind power megawatts exceeded new nuclear megawatts already in late 1990ies. In 2004-2006 new wind power outnumbered the new nuclear capacity more than six-fold. In 2007 the amount of new wind power capacity was more than ten times that of new nuclear capacity. In Finland wind power is and will forever be peanuts, nuclear power is living a renaissance – and the rest of the world is following us.
Globally 100 billion euros were invested in renewable energy last year. In Finland increasing the share of renewable energy is a threat for the nation, except for renewable peat. In Germany the price of electricity falls down always when there is a lot of wind power available, and the impact of this to consumer prices has been threefold compared to the subsidies to wind power. In its entirety wind power has cut several billion euros from the electricity bills of German consumers. In Finland building more wind power would cost the consumers dearly, impoverish families and force the industry to exile.
Finland has chosen to be the country to build a prototype of a new nuclear reactor, the European Pressurized Water Reactor EPR. The EPR is designed for using a higher uranium burn out rate than in any other commercial reactor so far. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating if this high uranium burn out rate meets the US safety requirements. First results published this spring show that the US safety requirements are not fulfilled without new safety criteria for the fuel rods. The NRC has launched a three years consultation process to find out how this problem could be solved. But if the current timetable is kept, the new reactor in Olkiluoto, Finland, will be switched on 2011, in the same year when the results from USA are expected to be available. In Finland there is no need to wait for the results from USA, because the genetic properties of Finns make nuclear power safe in Finland.
The president of EU commission José Manuel Barroso is talking about new industrial revolution, in order to prevent a catastrophic climate change. In Europe hundreds of thousands of new jobs are created in the renewable energy sector. Several governments think that it is in their economic interest to be in the forefront of the rapidly developing technology. But Finland is already a technologically highly advanced country. Therefore in Finland energy technology cannot be developed anymore.