Finland will soon enjoy more in the way of renewable energy from photovoltaics, predicated on using its highly successful community solar model.
Finland’s energy company Helen will take on the financing of the operation of the country’s largest PV plant, the 850 kW Kivikko solar plant. Its business plan covers leasing the array’s panels.
In Finland, shared PV projects currently account for 13% of the nation’s solar power production. It might well become one of the main driving forces for Finland’s tiny solar sector, reports pv magazine. Now the percentage figure will increase.
Earlier this month, Helsinki-based energy company Helen commissioned the Kivikko solar plant, to be located on the rooftop of an indoor cross-country skiing hall in Finland’s capital, Helsinki.
Specifically, the Kivikko project contains 2,992 PV panels, now available for leasing to Helen customers for a monthly fee of 4.40 Euros (US $5.02) each. The company says that within two weeks of the plant’s commissioning, local energy consumers have already leased more than half of the solar panels.
The utility reimburses subscribers for the electricity produced by their panels. Customers can monitor the panels’ electricity output online and track their energy consumption.
The ability to generate solar electricity without owning a rooftop system seems very appealing to Finland’s local energy consumers.
Each of the PV panels in the Kivikko installation is expected to produce approximately 230 kWh annually. This power-generating total is potentially equivalent to about 11% of the average electricity consumption of a one-bedroom apartment in Finland. This means one customer with a 10-panel lease can potentially balance their annual electricity requirements.
The Kivikko plant is not the first shared solar project in Finland. In March of 2015, Helen commissioned the 340 kW Suvilahti PV plant, for the first time offering its customers the possibility of generating solar power without investing in a private PV system. According to the company, all of the Suvilahti plant’s 1,194 panels were leased out in a matter of days.
Community solar projects elsewhere
Due to the benefit of having solar without incurring a large outlay of upfront capital, the appeal of projects like this is gaining momentum in other parts of the world. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) there are a number of different models which feature shared solar.
Here is the status of community solar projects in the US:
- There are 25 states with at least one community solar project online, with 91 projects and 102 cumulative megawatts installed through early 2016.
- At least 12 states and DC have recognized the benefits of shared renewables by encouraging their growth through policy and programs.
- Four states — California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Minnesota — are expected to install the majority of community solar over the next two years.
- The next five years will see the U.S. community solar market add an impressive 1.8 gigawatts, compared to just 66 megawatts through the end of 2014.
- Placed in service in 2006, the shared renewables project in Ellensburg, Washington, claims to be “the first community solar project in the nation.”
The future of shared solar in Finland
Presently, the Kivikko and Suvilahti PV plants together produce 1,000 MWh of electricity annually, representing 13% of Finland’s solar power production. If the Kivikko shared solar project turns out successful, Helen is planning to further expand its solar portfolio using the community business model.
“People who have acquired a designated panel have had a concrete impact on how electricity is generated in our country. If the Kivikko solar panels are sold out, we will build a third power plant in accordance with the same principle. Our customers will decide,” said Helen’s project manager Atte Kallio.
Image: Finland’s northern lights via Shutterstock
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