Many of us may think that in Finland, solar power makes no sense – out here, far in the ultimate northernmost darkness where the sun shines only in the summer if even then. Contrary to common belief, the annual solar irradiation in the ”sun belt” of Finland, i.e. the west coast and the southern parts of the country, is not far from that of Central Europe. For example in 2020, the solar irradiation in the city of Rauma per square meter was 1027 kWh, whereas in Berlin, it was 1175 kWh per square meter.

In addition to solar radiation, the local production costs of solar power are influenced by other factors such as the costs of the grid connection and the land use. In Finland, there is plenty of land and the grid infrastructure is in a relatively good shape, which leads to the total costs of the production of solar power to be well competitive when compared with Central Europe.

Europe’s green transition forms the engine of growth of Finland’s solar power production

The huge growth potential for solar power production in Finland is not based on the current electricity market needing a great deal of new carbon-dioxide-free electricity. Rather, the issue is that Europe’s green transition requires huge amounts of hydrogen and hydrogen derivates such as ammonia. The production of green hydrogen requires a great deal of electricity, and hydrogen production tends to find countries and areas that have a lot of potential for cost efficient renewable electricity.

There is such potential in Finland, and therefore, we have all the prerequisites to become a superpower of green energy production. For example, the Sähköä tuotteeksi (Electricity for a product) scenario drafted by Finland’s transmission system operator Fingrid estimates Finland’s electricity production to triple – grow by almost 200 TWh – over the next twenty years. In principle, the growth could be even much more. A half of the growth in Fingrid’s scenario, 100 TWh, could be obtained from e.g. building 25 GW of new wind power on land and 25 GW of new solar power. To compare: Korkia aims to develop approximately 1 GW of solar power in Finland.

Solar power and wind power are strongly complementary

I have often been asked why we should build solar power when the production costs of onshore wind power is lower. It is true that the production costs of  onshore wind usually is somewhat less even though the costs of building solar power have come down a great deal over the past few years. However, the difference no longer is a very significant one as we typically speak of a few euros per produced megawatt-hour.

Even so, the issue is not the cost of the produced energy alone. It is important to note that solar power and wind power complement one other excellently. Sun and wind produce energy at different times both within one day and during the different seasons. The illustration below shows the distribution of production over the different months at the Vasama wind farm and solar park, jointly developed by Korkia and a local developer. Electricity produced with solar energy compensates significantly for wind power, the production of which takes a downward turn when the summer approaches.

Adopting the viewpoint of a customer using renewable electricity, we may use a green hydrogen plant as our example. If the electricity requirement of the hydrogen production facility were 50 MW and it bought 50 MW from a onshore wind power plant, it could produce hydrogen with only about a 37% annual utilisation rate. If the facility were to buy electricity from a 50 MW solar park in addition to the wind farm, the utilisation rate might go up by as much as 10 percentage units. It would be profitable for the hydrogen plant to buy electricity from a solar park as well, even if solar power were a touch more expensive, because doing so would enable a significant increase to the utilisation rate.

A good example of Korkia’s projects is seen in the 80 MW solar park in the town of Kristiinankaupunki. Finland needs hundreds of projects like the one in Kristiinankaupunki – and luckily, there is plenty of room in Finland. Solar energy for 25 GW would require only approximately 0.1%, one per mil, of Finland’s total land surface.


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