The requirements for starting the preparations have been fulfilled
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has announced that preparations for a new support scheme for renewable energy production will begin now that the required investigations on health and environmental impacts of wind power have been completed.
The Finnish national energy and climate strategy for 2030, as approved by the government in November 2016, requires investigating the health and environmental impacts of wind power before preparing a new renewable energy support system. As of June 2017 the required investigations are now complete and the reports have been delivered to the steering group appointed to oversee the studies.
Kimmo Tiilikainen, the Finnish Minister for Housing, Energy and the Environment, said on 16 June 2017 that preparations will now begin on the legislation needed for the new production support scheme for renewable electricity. According to the national energy and climate strategy, the new support scheme will be based on technology-neutral competitive bidding. During 2018-2020, tenders will be invited for an aggregate of 2 TWh renewable electricity. The government has not decided what model of competitive bidding will be used, or set a specific timetable for the legislation or the scheme at this point.
Studies call for further investigation
The study on health impacts included a summary of previous studies as well as field study infrasound measurements. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, the Helsinki University, and the Helsinki Ear Institute all cooperated to prepare the health impact study. They report that the health impacts of wind power noise will require further investigation in order to get a broader overall picture. For example, the report states that the levels of infrasound near wind power plants are similar or lower than in city areas, but further investigations are justified in order to find sufficient scientific evidence on whether infrasound from wind power causes long-term health effects.
Further, the Finnish Museum of Natural History reviewed the literature to produce a study on wind power's impacts on birds and bats, which concludes that further construction of wind power plants is unlikely to pose considerable threats to bird and bat populations in Finland. However, the Museum also calls for further investigations in the matter.
Both studies mentioned above conclude that the decisive factor in mitigating a wind power plant's impacts is the plant's location.
According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, further studies concerning the health impacts of wind power will be carried out this coming autumn and will likely be funded by one of the government's funding programs. The investigations will concern the health of those living near to wind power plants, physiological reactions and symptoms caused by infrasound, and noise levels inside residential apartments attributable to wind power. This should, however, not directly affect the timetable for preparing the new support scheme and the related legislation.