- Finland’s renewable energy strategy is paying off as its energy has fallen to negative prices.
- A new nuclear reactor, along with unexpected flooding, leads to a glut of clean energy.
- It’s a stark reversal from last year, when Finns cut consumption after cutting ties with Russia.
Finland is currently facing an unusual problem: clean electricity so abundant that it sent negative energy prices on Wednesday.
With much of the rest of Europe facing an energy crisis, the Nordic country announced that its spot energy prices fell below zero before noon.
That meant the average energy price for the day was “slightly” below zero, Jukka Ruusunen, CEO of Finnish grid operator Fingrid, told Finnish state broadcaster Yle.
The drop in prices was driven by an unexpected glut of renewable energy, coupled with Finns themselves using less energy following the crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Now there is enough electricity, and there are almost no emissions, so you can feel good about using electricity,” Ruusunen told Finns, per Yle.
Finland went from energy poverty to glut in months
The news is a remarkable turnaround for a country that last winter told its residents to watch their energy use.
“Last winter, the only thing people could talk about was where to get more electricity. Now we are seriously thinking about how to limit production. We have gone from one extreme to another,” Ruusunen told Yle.
The country was facing an energy crisis after banning energy imports from its Russian neighbor as part of the global response to the invasion of Ukraine.
But a new nuclear reactor, commissioned in April this year, has provided a significant new flow of energy for Finland’s population of around 5.5 million.
Olkiluoto 3, the first new nuclear reactor to open in Europe in more than 15 years, has lowered the price of electricity in Finland by 75%, from €245.98 per megawatt hour in December to €60.55 per MWh in April, according to the Emirati newspaper. The National.
The country, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2035, has also made big efforts to introduce renewable energy solutions – Finland wants wind to be its main source of energy by 2027, said Ruusunen at the National.
This also contributes to lower energy prices. Excess meltwater, prompting flood warnings in several northern European countries, is pushing Finnish hydropower plants into overdrive and providing plentiful electricity.
“During spring floods, there is often this kind of forced production, because the production cannot be slowed down. Due to the enormous amount of water, hydropower often has a low capacity to regulate in the spring,” noted Ruusunen.
Finland now faces energy prices that are too low
Finland today faces the opposite problem of a poor energy supply: energy operators may no longer be able to operate normally if the electricity is worth less than its cost of production.
“Production that is unprofitable at these prices is usually taken off the market,” Ruusunen said.
Because hydroelectricity cannot be slowed down or stopped, other generators like nuclear are looking to curtail their output to avoid losing money on power generation.
Ruusunen said that in this context Finns can use all the energy they want.