The Ministry of Employment and the Economy has sent for comments a new law proposal regarding the development areas for wind power. The obstacles preventing wind power construction caused by the issue of radar coverage could be removed in certain specifically named areas by developing the surveillance systems of the Defence Forces, for example by procuring a new radar. This would ensure the functionality of territorial surveillance while also promoting the fast construction of wind power in areas that are especially favourable in terms of their wind conditions, where many projects are pending.
“The government has written down the principle in its budget framework review that the state will participate in the early stage in the procurement of an additional radar for the Bay of Bothnia region. This way the region can be freed quickly for wind power construction. This is a significant decision because wind power investments worth hundreds of millions of euros are currently on hold in the region due to the radar issue,” says Jan Vapaavuori, Minister of Economic Affairs.
The intention is to present the completed law proposal to the parliament in May at the same time as the first draft amending budget for the year 2013. The law could come into effect in July at the earliest.
The compensation system has been prepared in negotiations between the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the Defence Forces, the Ministry of Finance and the Finnish Energy Industries which represented the actors of the wind power sector. The goal is to find an arrangement that is reasonable and equal towards all the companies that are planning wind power construction in a particular area now and in the future.
There are currently areas in Finland that are favourable in terms of wind conditions, where wind power construction has been prevented especially due to the estimated impact of the wind turbines on radars. A prerequisite for a building permit for the wind turbines has been a statement from the Defence Forces that they do not disrupt the statutory tasks of the Defence Forces during normal conditions, exceptional situations or in a state of emergency. A negative statement has always prevented the construction of a wind turbine in an area.
The law proposal includes the first development area for wind power. This would be the name for a 2,425 square kilometre area located in the municipalities of Hailuoto, Lumijoki, Raahe, Siikajoki and Pyhäjoki. The area already has more than 150 wind turbines at an advanced planning stage, most of which are lacking the statement from the Defence Forces that the turbines will not disrupt the surveillance systems. Following the establishment of the development area it would be possible to construct wind turbines in the area even if the statement from the Defence Forces is lacking or an already received statement had been negative.
The wind power producers who are building in the development area have to pay a development area fee for each turbine, the exact amount of which will be determined during the spring. These payments will eventually form a compensation sum which in the Bay of Bothnia area will total EUR 18.5 million. The state will clarify its participation in the early stage funding solution so that the Defence Forces can order an additional radar during the summer. This way the new wind turbines in the area could be taken into use on 1.1.2014.
If there are so many wind turbines built in the area that the compensation sum is exceeded, the excess amount is returned to the wind power producers. The tax-like payments will be made to the Energy Market Authority, which will also manage the feed-in tariff system for wind power.
The law proposal is available on the web at: www.tem.fi [http://www.tem.fi/]
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Pete Pokkinen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Economic Affairs
Anja Liukko, Senior Legal Advisor at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy
Kari Salin, Lieutenant Commander, Defence Forces