Domestic business markets for solar energy need to be put into shape
Now a concrete programme of measures is needed for promoting solar energy business activities, say the researchers for the FinSolar Project.
Solar energy is the most rapidly growing energy technology in the world. In Italy, the share of solar electricity in total electricity consumption already reached 7.5% in 2014. In Germany solar electricity production was 35 TWh, which is equivalent to nearly half of Finnish total electricity consumption. In England, 125,000 households installed solar energy into their homes.
There is also the need and potential for solar energy in Finland, since all kinds of renewable energy technology are needed to replace fossil fuels. Yet domestic markets are not able to meet this need.
In a fresh report from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, the potential for solar electricity was estimated at 500 MW for the year 2020, which would already equate to around 0.5% of Finland's total electricity consumption. In addition to this, solar heat could also be utilised more than at present.
Competition in international markets is tight
‘In addition to their domestic operations, Finnish companies are trying to access export markets, which are growing quickly. However, competition on the international market is tight, and so the domestic market must therefore be got into shape’, explains Aalto University School of Business Professor Raimo Lovio, who is in charge of the FinSolar Project.
The FinSolar Project promotes domestic marketing of solar energy by bringing together technology businesses, electricity companies, commercial real estate owners, municipal representatives and financing professionals. They develop together models with which municipalities, business chains and housing associations could achieve significant investments in solar power.
In Finland there are currently around 50 solar energy systems which can be considered fairly large given the size of the country, with the largest currently being the Helen solar power station in Helsinki, which will soon reach completion. ‘This station's output was sold out in three days. According to research carried out by the energy industry, solar power is at the top of Finnish consumers' wish list when compared with other forms of energy’, Mr Lovio added.
‘According to the profitability calculations made for the project, the return on capital invested already looks good in many areas, but numerous small obstacles still need to be removed in order to significantly improve marketing prospects’, explains Project Lead Karoliina Auvinen.
The spread of solar energy offers business opportunities and work to very many different Finnish businesses. The most important element of the business activities involved is not just the manufacture of solar panels, but rather the whole value chain, which includes the machines used to manufacture the panels, the components and installation materials and equipment, as well as different kinds of measurement devices.
In addition, business is generated by the need for solar system design and installation, as well as their integration with networks and buildings' other systems.
‘In order for the full potential of solar energy to be understood, and for business operations to get up to speed in both the domestic and export markets, a quick and decisive package of measures is needed. Otherwise, there is the danger that Finland will miss its chance’, Auvinen and Lovio warned.
FinSolar is a network project aimed at boosting the Finnish solar energy industry. It involves 50 different organisations and is funded by the Tekes Groove Program. It is set to run until the end of 2015.
Aalto University School of Business