Survey: More renewable energy is wanted, but not at the expense of the security of energy supply. Energy production must be safeguarded in all weather conditions.
According to a study commissioned by Helen, decision-makers are of the opinion that the security of energy supply must not be jeopardised as a result of climate targets even though there is a call to increase renewable energy. Only 15% of the leading figures in the energy sector would allow a degree of flexibility in terms of the security of energy supply on account of climate targets, whereas 67% are against it. According to experts, security of supply will become a great deal more significant in future energy systems than the price of energy and the environmental aspects.
– It is a really important signal from decision-makers that the security of supply is prioritised as high as this. However, further development of energy technology is still needed in order to be able to easily reconcile the decision-makers’ wishes concerning the security of supply and a strong increase in solar and wind power. We will also need reliable energy production, which is available in all weather conditions, for a long time in addition to these production methods. Even if the demand and supply of energy will be more flexible in the future, a certain amount of energy will be needed in any case, for example, during the coldest periods in the winter, says Director Maiju Westergren of Helen Ltd.
Renewable energy with variable production, such as solar energy and wind power, needs energy storages, demand response and supplementary production to support it. According to Westergren, an increase in the volume of renewable energy with variable production requires partly overlapping technical systems, some of which are needed only seasonally or in exceptional situations.
Emissions reduction plays a key role
A total of 62% of the key contributors in the energy sector fully or more or less agree with the claim that ‘Finland must be a forerunner in achieving global climate targets even if it increases the price of energy.' On average, the respondents are of the opinion that it would be acceptable to increase the consumers’ energy bill by 5–10% in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The experts think that Finnish energy policy should be steered by reducing carbon dioxide emissions (33% of respondents) and increasing the use of renewable energy sources (33%). These two are regarded as clearly more important factors than, for example, the price or the local content of energy.
– Increasing renewable energy production is regarded as self-evident although it is only one way to achieve the climate targets. Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions is a key in terms of climate change, and for that we need all the available means. At Helen, we see that emissions trading has a great role in this, Westergren continues.
Support for the use of renewable energy sources was still endorsed in the survey, but direct support for production, such as feed-in tariffs, seems to be falling in popularity. Of the policy instruments, especially investment aid for renewable energy, i.e. so-called demonstration support, is approved (64%). However, the production support in current use has become less popular, and only 17% of players support it as a policy instrument. Twenty-two per cent of the respondents think that the energy market does not need any other policy instruments in addition to the emissions trading scheme.
The survey concerning the energy policy among the leading figures in the Finnish energy sector was conducted by Aula Research on behalf of Helen. The target groups of the survey were members of parliament and the driving forces behind policy making, key ministry officials in terms of the energy sector, and the researchers and organisations in the sector. A total of 135 energy experts took part in the survey, and its response rate was 30. The survey was conducted in the form of an e-questionnaire and telephone interviews between 2 February and 11 March 2017.