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Metsähallitus plans to charge owners of wind generators rent for using public land  

Metsähallitus, the state enterprise whose task is to manage most of the protected areas of Finland and to supply wood to the country’s forest industry, says that it will not give its land and water areas to companies setting up wind generators free of charge. Instead, it is expected to lease its land for use for wind-powered generators.

No details of the rent, or the preconditions, have been defined.

The Finnish government wants to increase sharply the use of wind energy, which now accounts for 0.2 per cent of the energy mix, and provides a total output of 110 megawatts.

The government believes that by 2020, nearly 2,000 megawatts of energy could be produced in Finnish wind power plants – close to a 20-fold increase from the present level.

It is possible to build 10 megawatts of wind-generating power facilities in a land area of one square kilometre. If they are set up any thicker, the units will interfere with each other. This means that a wind power plant for 3,000 megawatts would require 300 square kilometres of land area – approximately about 300 square kilometres, nearly the same as is covered by the City of Espoo.

Most of the new plants would be built on municipal and state land and water areas. Antero Juhtio, director of Metsähallitus, notes that under the law, the organisation is required to value its land at the going price when assessing the rent.

But how can a monetary price be placed on a swamp, forest that grows only stunted trees, or a remote cliff, when it is used as a foundation for a wind power station? Luhtio feels that that there is no rental market like this for agricultural land.

Also complicating matters is that it is possible to practice other activities in wind power plant areas, such as agriculture, fishing, and other recreational land-use.

Luhtio does not believe that the state will sell its land. “Instead, what will come into question is that of selling the right to build wind power stations”, he said. He also expects that rental fees will not scuttle the construction of more wind power facilities.

Taking the same view is Timo Mäki, CEO of Suomen Hyötytuuli, which runs wind power plants in Pori and Raahe. “We have leased the areas required by the foundations of the towers – about 20 x 20 metres – that is, only the areas required by the wind plant. Hence the rent has been quite reasonable.”

The land for the Pori facility has been leased from the City of Pori. Negotiations concerning a sea area for a planned expansion of the Pori facility are at a standstill because Metsähallitus is reassessing its position.

“Production of wind energy is not very profitable. It has been constantly subsidised. It would not seem smart for the state to support wind power with one hand, and to charge high rents with the other”, Mäki says.

Helsingin Sanomat

15 May 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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