Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin companies can contribute their expertise.
In 2019, before the start of the pandemic, Finland’s GDP was at €240.1 billion, an increase of 1% over the previous year. Finland had one of the highest per capital GDP levels globally, reaching $48,809 that year. While the country’s economy has been hit hard in the second quarter of 2020, shrinking by 6.4% year-over-year, Finland is among the countries in Europe least affected by COVID-19, with only 16,400 reported cases thus far, representing 0.27% of the total population. The fact that the pandemic was brought under control relatively quickly has been key for the Finnish economy, protecting private consumption and allowing the service sector to recover quickly from the collapse that took place last spring. In addition, manufacturing and construction companies were able to keep their production running, and Finland’s well-developed information technology infrastructure helped in a smooth transition to remote work. The situation in fall 2020 is still under control, with fewer than 5,000 active cases, and especially in the world context, Finland’s economy is considered to be stable.
Finland is one of the world leaders in the utilization of renewable sources of energy, especially bioenergy. In the latest publications in 2018, renewable energy sources represented about 40% of energy consumption. However, the goal set in the National Energy and Climate Strategy for 2030 is to increase the use of renewable energy so that by the end of this decade, its share of energy consumption rises to more than 50%. Presently, hydropower is the second-largest source of renewable energy, after bioenergy. In 2018, 47,295 terajoules were consumed, making it the eighth-most-important energy source when considering both renewable as well as traditional sources of energy. In just the first half of 2020 only, 29,784 terajoules of hydropower were consumed, representing 5% of total energy consumption and constituting 24% growth compared to the previous year, thus showing hydropower’s increasing importance.
To date, a major complication in hydropower production in Finland is has been variability in distribution of the resource throughout the year: The main inflow to the reservoirs occurs in late spring when the snow melts, while in winter the inflow is very low. However, climate change is expected to change this as time goes on, making Finland’s conditions more favorable for hydropower generation as increased winter runoff increases capacity usage of turbines and water reservoirs. The flood charting of water systems and the optimization of regulation practices will be important as this shift occurs.
As many parts of Finland’s hydropower infrastructure were set up in the first half of the 20th century, a renewal of technology, flood mapping and regulation systems will be needed in order to maximize the contribution of hydropower to reaching the 2030 climate goals. For Wisconsin companies, this is an opportunity to support Finland in developing its hydropower and hydroelectric infrastructure. In 2019, no exports in the field of hydraulic turbines, water wheels and regulators to Finland were made from Wisconsin—indicating an opportunity waiting for Wisconsin companies to take advantage.
Finland has a leading position in the utilization and technology development of renewable sources of energy, but is not currently fulfilling its hydropower potential. Wisconsin companies can support this development by supplying regulation technology and expertise for water reservoirs and small hydropower plants to help Finland expand its hydropower infrastructure.
In order to get further insights into the local market and establish contacts with businesses, consider attending trade fairs like the Teknologia (Nov. 9-11, 2021, in Helsinki, see https://teknologia.messukeskus.com/?lang=en) and the biannual Energia Trade Fair (Oct. 25-27, 2022, in Tampere, see https://energiamessut.expomark.fi/?lang=en).