Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland have set lofty goals for wind energy, creating opportunities for Wisconsin exporters.

While the European Union has committed to increase its share of renewable energy to 20 percent of total energy usage by 2020, the Scandinavian countries have set themselves much higher goals. Due to long shorelines and high winds in all four Scandinavian nations, the expansion of wind energy production holds great potential within the renewable category.

Finland’s government aims at having a 50 percent share of renewable energy supply in the country by 2020, including power and heat generation and fuel, up from the current 35 percent. Due to steady high wind speeds along the coast and in the North, wind power is an energy source with huge potential. In 2015, $500 million was invested in the Finnish wind energy industry and more than 2.3 terawatt hours of power produced in wind parks, representing 2.8 percent of the total electricity production in Finland. In order to boost growth of renewable power generation, the government will provide $330 million through 2018.

According to the Finnish Wind Power Association, new wind power plants with a total capacity of 11 gigawatts are planned. Due to the Finnish government’s stable credit rating and high level of transparency, this provides huge potential for foreign companies with innovative solutions. According to the European Commission, Finland imported more than $15 million worth of products such as wind power generator sets in 2012; this sum is believed to have risen in the years since due to increased wind energy production. In particular, wind turbine manufacturers and components suppliers, as well as service providers for maintenance and building, can benefit from Finland’s wind energy growth.

Sweden also aims at a 50 percent share of renewable energy supply by 2020. Presently most of the country’s power is produced by nuclear and hydroelectric plants. However, in 2015, all new construction for nuclear power was halted to help transfer investment into renewables. In order to be less dependent on climate-induced variation in hydropower, the Swedish government wants to increase the amount of wind power electricity from currently 7 to 20 percent. To reach this goal, Sweden will invest $6.6 million annually into the development of smart grids starting in 2016. At present, seven wind farms exist in central Sweden. A huge project in the North of the country with more than 1,100 wind turbines and involvement of foreign partners is still in the planning phase. With foreign purchases of more than $107 million, the country places among the major importers of wind components in the EU. Sweden’s ambitious wind energy goal provides good business opportunities in the coming years for wind technology and component suppliers from the U.S.

While Denmark’s renewable energy supply goal, including power and heat production and fuels is 33 percent, lower than the other Scandinavian nations, the country is the leading Northern European wind power nation. Almost 40 percent of its power is already generated by wind parks, and this percentage is expected to increase to 70 percent by 2020. While the country has a strong national wind industry, Denmark also bought foreign goods for wind energy generation worth $40 million in 2014. Hence, foreign enterprises specializing in the development of technical components for the wind energy sector also have business opportunities in this small Northern European country.

Norway, with a goal 67 percent renewable energy by 2020, has the loftiest goal of all Scandinavian nations. Due to its strength in oil and gas production, great opportunities are seen especially in offshore wind energy production. The potential along Norway’s coast is estimated at 900 terawatt hours. A number of wind parks of various sizes are currently built or planned. In many of these projects, foreign enterprises are involved or even major players in the supply of technology and required components or as construction service providers. Due to the sharp fall in the price of oil, the Norwegian krone is being depreciated relative to key international currencies, which will benefit U.S. exporters.

For Wisconsin wind power supply chain companies, the emphasis of wind power generation in Scandinavia is a great opportunity to enter the European wind power market.