Opposition to nuclear energy increased in Finland after the nuclear accident in Fukushima, but unlike Germany, which announced a plan to phase out nuclear energy on Monday, no widespread change in attitudes has been seen. Finnish opponents of nuclear energy are nevertheless encouraged by Germany’s decision.
“Germany’s path is not in sight in Finland in any way”, says Jorma Aurela, top engineer at the Energy Department of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
Taking the same view is Mikael Ohlström, the leading energy expert at the Confederation of Finnish Industry (EK), who says that it is hard to see how Finland could cope without nuclear power.
A third of electricity in Finland is produced by nuclear energy. Ohlström feels that it would be hard to replace it with other sources.
“Hydroelectric power cannot be increased very much because of restrictions, and the construction of wind power is slow because of reasons of zoning”, Ohlström says.
Aurela and Ohlström say that Germany’s decision could lead to higher electricity prices in Finland.
“The use of fossil fuels will increase in Germany at least temporarily. Germany will need more emission credits, whose price will rise when shortages emerge. This will raise the price in the whole EU”, Ohlström says.
Aurela expects that Germany will have to buy electricity from other European countries, which will also raise prices.
“Germany is a huge European country. Nordic players could be tempted to export electricity there at a good price”, Aurela says.
National Coalition Party leader Jyrki Katainen says that Germany’s decision will not affect Finland’s stance on the matter. “We have made our decisions in the past Parliamentary term”, he notes.
“Finland is a country that is very dependent on energy. If Finland were to close down nuclear energy, it would mean that we would have to increase imports, or then significantly increase the use of coal energy. The price of energy might also rise.”
The Green League and the Left Alliance, both parties which are taking part in the ongoing government formation talks, as well as several environmental organisations have urged Finland to follow Germany’s example.
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