Finland rejects undersea electricity
cable from Russia
Jan 31, 2007 HELSINGIN SANOMAT,
Finland's Minister of Trade and Industry, Mauri
Pekkarinen announced on Tuesday that Finland would
not allow the construction of an undersea electric
cable from Russia to Finland.
The decision was finalised in the government's ministerial
committee on economic policy.
The Russian-led United Power sought permission to
export electricity to Finland through a cable with
a capacity for 1,000 megawatts. The cable was to have
run from Kernovo at the southeast end of the Gulf
of Finland, near the Russian Sosnovyi Bor nuclear
power plant, to Kotka in the southwest of Finland.
United Power submitted its application to the Ministry
of Trade and industry over two years ago. Pekkarinen
said that perhaps the most important reason for rejecting
the application was the effect that it would have
had on Finnish self-sufficiency in electricity production.
According to Pekkarinen, Parliament has emphasised
this autumn that Finland must be more self-sufficient
than before in the production of electricity. "If
it were implemented, the cable project would have
especially reduced domestic co-generation of electricity
and district heat, and would have significantly slowed
down the implementation of new domestic energy solutions.
All of this would mean the reduction in production
of electricity using domestic sources from the present
level of 34 per cent. This would not be a good development",
Pekkarinen explained in a press release of the Ministry
of Trade and Industry.
Pekkarinen added that the undersea cable project
would have required EUR 1.5 billion in investments
in strengthening the carrying capacity of the Finnish
electricity grid. The ministry also considered the
likely availability of electricity in northwest Russia,
and concluded that the applicant had not demonstrated
convincingly that an uninterrupted flow of power could
be guaranteed in all circumstances.
Leaders of Finland's political parties were largely
in agreement with the decision to reject the cable
project. Social Democratic Party Chairman, Minister
of Finance Eero Heinäluoma , felt that the decision
was the only option for securing Finnish energy supplies.
He said that the sea cable would not have been a sufficiently
reliable source of electricity during cold periods.
Heinäluoma pointed out that Russia also has a growing
need for energy, and that therefore, increasing dependence
on Russia for energy would be risky for Finland. He
also noted that existing Russian exports of electricity
to Finland broke down on a couple of occasions for
technical reasons last year. He echoed Pekkarinen's
view that Finland needs to produce more electricity
itself, using renewable sources.
Leaders of opposition parties were also largely
in agreement with the government's decision. Only
Matti Korhonen of the Left Alliance would have wanted
to allow the cable, saying that it would bring more
competition to the energy market and help lower prices.
However, Korhonen welcomed the fact that the decision
would probably promote domestic energy production.
National Coalition Party leader Jyrki Katainen said
that in this case, more important than an increase
in competition and lower prices is that Finland prepares
to produce more energy on its own that is "climatically
sustainable", and to develop new technology for the
The National Coalition Party is the only political
group that openly supports the construction of a sixth
nuclear generator. Katainen has also called for more
input into the use of biological energy sources. Green
League chairwoman Tarja Cronberg said that the decision
was "very good". Like the other leaders, Cronberg
said that she hopes that the decision would lead to
investments into renewable domestic forms of energy.
She added that it is very good that Finland does not
buy Russian electricity that is produced by nuclear
power. She also said that it is important not to make
Finland more dependent on Russia for energy.