Finland wind farms clash with military radar

YLE NewsEye on the Arctic

Large investments in creating wind power farms in southeastern Finland have been blocked because the planned wind turbines would cause interference to military radar networks in the region. Power utilities want to negotiate with the government on a deal to contribute to modifications of the defence radar system.

In May, the government earmarked $15.5 million euros to modify defence radar systems in the vicinity of Raahe along the northwest coast because of the interference caused by local wind plants. A condition of the extra budget appropriation given to the Defence Forces was that local plant operators contribute to the project. Under a deal worked out then, wind power plant owners will pay a special tax of $50,000 euros per wind turbine to help defray the cost of the modifications their wind farms are forcing the military to make.

Wind power utilities in the southeast of the country are faced by the same obstacle.

According to Petteri Laaksonen, CEO of the wind power company Tuuli Saimaa, operators in the region want to open talks on a similar deal immediately following the summer holiday season.

“Negotiations have to be first carried out with political decision-makers, and the military will have to provide a cost estimate, and then we’ll see how flexible the State can be,” Laaksonen explains.

In Laaksonen’s view, there should be legislation introduced on the issue covering the whole of the country and providing operators with a level playing field.

“If the matter is not settled soon, billions in investment in Finland could be lost, because it is seen as too big a problem and too big a risk that is putting projects on hold, or killing them,” says Petteri Laaksonen.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.