Smart regulation and market stimulation are key drivers for growing the renewable energy sector and helping to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, Finnish Economic Affairs and Employment Deputy Minister Petri Peltonen said on Thursday.
Speaking to Engineering News Online on the sidelines of the Nordic Energy Days conference, in Pretoria, he stated that when it came to renewable energy, government could help support the sector by streamlining regulation.
“Smart regulation enables new solutions, such as renewable energy, to be taken on board,” he said.
If there is existing regulation that is an obstacle, he noted, it should be removed.
He stated that such regulations included building and construction norms and introducing energy efficiency in heating, which was especially relevant in Nordic countries.
“Further technology development is key."
Peltonen stated that, in Finland, CO2-based car taxation has brought carbon emissions down significantly.
He added that, in Europe, yearly CO2 fees were mainly motor-vehicle related.
“The higher the emission, the higher the tax. It effects the consumers. Smart regulation catalyses consumers to be more environment-friendly. Electric cars and cars with a low CO2 emission, in Finland, for example, are significantly cheaper than regular-emission cars,” he said.
He pointed out that CO2 reduction was also achieved through the use of biofuels in Finland. Twenty per cent of transport fuels were biobased, he said, highlighting that government had increased that objective to 40% by the end of 2030.
Peltonen also touched on the subject of smart metering, highlighting that it was deployed in every household in Finland.
“It lets you choose a pricing model, whereby instead of paying a fixed price per kilowatt-hour, you pay the spot price, which can be next to nothing,” he said.
He added that, when there’s higher demand, the spot price goes up.
He pointed out that smart households were fitted with intelligent control systems that followed the market price of electricity and switched off household equipment such as heating and cooling systems, while taking account of the current spot price of electricity.
“Smart metering also allows consumers to produce energy; if you have a rooftop solar photovoltaic unit, you can measure your electricity production and put the excess back into the grid, which the power utility pays a fee for,” he said.
FINNISH PRESENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA
There are about ten Finnish companies active in South Africa’s renewable energy space, while many Finnish companies are exporting their products to South Africa, such as power generator company Wartsilla.
He stated that developing joint technology in the engineering space was vital for collaboration between Finland and South Africa in the renewable energy sector.
“We already have an existing collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and its counterpart in Finland,” Peltonen noted.
He added that European Union research programmes, which South Africa had full access to, were another way the two countries could connect.
Peltonen highlighted that South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme was something Finnish companies were interested in investing in.
“My message to the South African government is that enabling [the development of] various sources of renewable energy . . . is one way of implementing smart regulation and will enable government to push new innovation in renewable energy sources, and [one way for] markets to develop,” he said.