Most of renewable energy in Finland is bioenergy

Renewable energy sources mean wood-based fuels, other fuels of plant or animal origin, biogas, biodegradable fractions of fuels derived from recycling or wastes, hydropower, windpower, solar energy and geothermal heat.

In 2022 renewable energy sources accounted for 42% of the total energy use in Finland. Both in 2020 and 2021 the use of energy from renewable sources was higher than the use of fossil fuels and peat in total. In Finland most of the renewable energy is bioenergy, i.e. energy produced from different kinds of biomasses.

The use of renewable energy sources has increased, but significant amounts of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas are still being used to generate energy.

Targets for renewable energy set in the National Climate and Energy Strategies

The targets and means for increasing the share of renewable energy are specified in the National Climate and Energy Strategies. The updated strategy was completed in spring 2022 and submitted as Report to Parliament in June 2022. The Medium-term Climate Plan (KAISU) concerning the non-emissions trading sector, including agriculture, transport, individual heating of buildings and waste management, was updated as well. The Finnish Bioeconomy Strategy was updated in 2021 and the Climate Plan for the Land Use Sector was drawn up in 2022. 

Finland clearly exceeded the EU target for the percentage of renewable energy in 2020 

The EU targets for renewable energy are defined relative to energy end-use. With this calculation method, the share of renewable energy has been about 3–5 percentage units higher than the percentage calculated from total energy use. In Finland the share of renewable energy sources in energy end-use was 44.6% in 2020. The national binding target set for Finland in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive was a share of renewable energy of at least 38% of total energy end-use, which was thus exceeded clearly. 

In the Renewable Energy Directive the efforts of different Member States to reach their targets and, thus, the achievement of the common EU target are promoted by the option to use statistical transfers, i.e. to count the percentages that exceed the target for renewable energy in another Member State towards meeting the country’s own target. Accordingly, e.g. Finland has sold part of its statistical surplus of renewable energy to Belgium. In 2020, after the transfer, the share of renewable energy in energy end-use was 43.9% in Finland, which is still high.

In Finland the percentage of renewable energy in energy end-use has been the second highest among the EU countries. Finland has exceeded the target for the percentage of renewable energy for 2020 (38%) since 2014. The current Renewable Energy Directive does not set any targets for individual Member States.

The aim of the National Climate and Energy Strategy to 2030 is to increase the use of renewable energy so that by the end of the 2020s it will account for more than 50% of energy end-use. The National Climate and Energy Strategy is again being updated.

Wood-based fuels are an important source of bioenergy in Finland

Wood-based energy, i.e. wood-based fuels, are the most important source of renewable energy in Finland. In 2020 they accounted for 74% of renewable energy.

In Finland wood-based energy is mainly generated from side streams of forest industry and forest management. The side streams of wood processing industry, i.e. black liquor, bark and sawdust, have for a long time been utilised for energy production. In the same way, logging residue and small-diameter wood harvested in connection with removals and forest management works, i.e. forest chips, are used to produce electricity and heat. Considerable amounts of fuelwood and pellets are used in private households as well. Besides all this, many wood products and wooden structures can be utilised as energy at the end of their lifecycle. Of the wood-based fuels, the share of black liquor has grown the most in recent years as the production of pulp has increased. Wood-based fuels indeed have an important role in Finnish energy production: today, they are the largest individual source of energy, i.e. they account for a larger share of our total energy use than oil or coal. In 2020 wood-based fuels accounted for 28% of the total energy use and they were the most commonly used source of energy in Finland.

Dry arable biomass with high cellulose content - reed canary grass, straw and sorting residue from cereal production - can be burned as such or mixed with other fuels. Animal manure can also be used for energy e.g. by gasifying it into biogas. Biogas can be produced from various types of biomass by digestion in anaerobic conditions. The biodegradable fractions of fuels from recycled and waste material are also classified as bioenergy. For example, waste oil from fish processing and food industry leftovers can be processed into energy. All this means that bioenergy can be produced from many types of biomass and by using many different techniques.

Related topics

Wood fuels in energy generation
Sustainability criteria for biomass (new EU Renewable Energy Directive)
Preparation of the Climate Plan for the Land Use Sector 

Related links

Energy supply and consumption in 2022 (Statistics Finland 18 April 2023)
Energy supply and consumption in 2021 (Statistics Finland 14 April 2022)
Consumption of renewable energy in Finland in 2020 (Statistics Finland, 16 December 2021)
Eurostat renewable energy statistics
Projects on bioenergy in Projectnet 
Renewable energy in Finland (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment)

Further information

Kaisa Pirkola, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Natural Resources Department, Unit for Forests and Bioenergy 0295162350