Fully renewable South Karelian energy system modelled – could create 3000 jobs
A fully renewable energy system for electricity and heat production is feasible in South Karelia. According to a study conducted at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), the region could shift to a renewable energy system by 2050.
The study modelled an 80 per cent renewable energy system by the year 2030 and a 100 per cent renewable system by 2050. To achieve the 80 per cent target, the system would require 80 three-megawatt wind power plants and 200 megawatts of solar power. In a fully renewable energy system, both production rates would rise to 350 megawatts. The calculated model covers energy consumption in the public sector, transport and accommodation, but excludes industry.
Transferring to the modelled energy system would require significant investments in e.g. wind and solar energy and incorporating them into the heating system. The most challenging sector is transport.
"The motor vehicle population renews slowly, and the final decision is made by the consumer. In addition, the domestic production of transport fuels is still minor," says Jori Lindgren, who conducted the study.
Significant employment opportunities
The investments required by the system create jobs. The installation of wind turbines would create 40 person-years of employment annually, and maintenance 3 person-years annually. The employment effect would increase gradually to an annual level of 48 maintenance-related jobs by 2030. The overall employment effect is estimated to be 600 person-years.
The installation and startup of the solar power plant would create work in the amount of 2000 person-years. The most important employment effects would result from installation, which is estimated to be 15 person-years annually.
The energy purchasing costs in South Karelia in 2012 were nearly 250 million euros. The overall costs would increase by 20 million by the year 2030. However, it has been estimated that after the initial investments, the production costs would approach zero, levelling the overall cost effect.
The City of Lappeenranta is aiming to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent. The City wishes to act as a test environment for ambitious renewable energy solutions. Development Manager Markku Heinonen is convinced that replacing imported energy with low-emission domestic energy will promote economic growth and employment in Finland.
"The transformation of the energy market opens up new possibilities for innovations and new business. The study shows that in South Karelia alone the employment effects of adopting renewable sources of energy are extensive. It is in the State's best interest to promote the implementation of the modelled scenario through different incentives and tax solutions."
LUT's study was part of the project ”Smart Energy Transitions” funded by the Academy of Finland.
Jori Lindgren, +358 400 650 308, firstname.lastname@example.org
Markku Heinonen, +358 40 581 1998, email@example.com