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Finland sets out roadmap to carbon neutrality

London — Finland's new center-left coalition government plans to "move towards carbon neutrality by 2035," it said in a detailed policy document Tuesday.

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Production of electricity and heat must be "almost emission-free" by the end of the 2030s, driven by the removal of energy tax relief for heavy industry and introduction of tax benefits on heat pumps, offshore wind turbines and electricity storage.

"Finland will strive to become the world's first fossil-free prosperous society," it said.

Use of coal in generation is already to be phased out by 2029, but the new government is to offer support to companies abandoning coal by 2025 and pursuing alternatives, such as non-combustible district heat technologies.

The use of peat in generation, meanwhile, is forecast to end in the 2030s, but should be at least halved by 2030, the government said.

The use of heating oil is to be phased out entirely in the early 2030s, with use in state and municipal buildings abandoned by 2024. A separate action plan would flesh out ways to encourage a move away from oil-fired heating.

"The electrification of society and the connection of energy systems (electricity, heat and transport) will require a significant increase in renewable electricity production," the government said.

For wind power, however, this would have to take place "on market terms," albeit with tax benefits and with the removal of planning barriers for offshore development, it said.

On nuclear, the extension of existing nuclear power plant licenses would be welcomed on condition the country's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority supported those applications.

A cost analysis meanwhile would be carried out on electricity transmission to ensure efficiency, with the option of limiting annual increases in charges, while exploring alternative ways to increase system flexibility and ensure security of supply to remote areas.

"The potential of smart grids and demand flexibility must be fully exploited," it said.

"Regulation and taxation are being developed to help small-scale energy production...while amendments to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive will ensure heating system based on heat pumps do not produce electricity demand spikes," it said.

The make-up of Finland's new five-party center-left coalition was unveiled Monday, comprising seven Social Democrat ministers (including new Prime Minister Antti Rinne), five Centre Party ministers, three from the Greens, and two each from the Left Alliance and the Swedish People's Party.

The Greens have been given the Ministry of the Environment. Green MP Krista Mikkonen is set to be named the new Minister of Environment and Climate Change at the party's annual conference June 15, Finnish public broadcaster YLE said Wednesday.

-- Henry Edwardes-Evans,

-- Edited by James Leech,