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Participation in Interaction Forum for Offshore Wind Power



During the academic year 2023-2024 FESIO has also been involved in participatory work related to offshore wind power parks and their planning. VAMKs Fesio researcher Toni Lustila participated in the workshop "Merituulivoiman vuorovaikutusfoorumi” at Alma-Opisto 31.10.2023. There were several  speakers from the public authorities and after their presentations there was discussion and also some group work was being  done.  Next, the main points of the workshop is presented according to the notes of Mr Lustila.


The first speaker was Mrs Tiina Tihlman  from the Environment ministry and she told that the second round of marine area planning starts  in 2024 and the ministry will  initiate stakeholder workshops of which  two will be national workshops and five regional workshops (in Kotka, Rauma, Vaasa, Oulu, and Tornio). She explained  the objectives of the forum which were  building a regional situational picture, dialogue and coordination  and defining common goals.


After Mrs Tihlman Mr Reijo Kiviniemi, the  head of  areal planning,  in  Keski-Pohjanmaan liitto presented the  special features of the region and strengths: multiple ports, maritime industry and connections to Sweden.   He told that maritime activities are increasing and mining operations will also increase maritime transport and navigation.  Maritime area security and sabotage are becoming important issues including preparedness and security of supply.


The 3rd speaker was Mrs Heini Passoja from Metsähallitus. She showed plans for area tendering and explained the role of Metsähallitus. Tendering is preceded by about a year of work, mapping suitable areas, preliminary licensing, and preparing for tendering. Tendering requires the approval of the Council of State. Approval is awaited for two projects, Edith (off Närpiö) and Ebba (off Raahe and Pyhäjoki). Tendering will be carried out in 2024. Property tax for municipalities is estimated to be at about €7,000 per turbine per year.


Other participants from Metsähallitus (MH) were Mr Markku Tuominen who is s responsible for tendering and Otto Swanljung who leads MH's wind power business.


After Metsähallitus there was a speech from Ann-Sofi Backgren who is the chair of Korsnäs municipal council.  She gave perspectives on recreation and leisure and showed a magnificent map from the 16th century. She is Involved in the UNESCO process and she pointed out to remember the unique nature and cultural history of the area and that we have a joint UNESCO heritage area with Höga Kusten in Sweden. She highlighted the importance of storytelling and cultural and nature tourism. Jim Thosell  from UNESCO has said : "UNESCO world heritage  is like the Nobel Prize for natural areas."


Then Executive Director Marina Nyqvist from Österbottens Fiskarförbund spoke about professional fishing in the area.  She pointed out that the goal is to double domestic fish consumption from 1.7 -> to 2.5 meals per week as fish consumption reduces healthcare costs by €2-5 billion and thus raises benefits to €3-6 billion. Replacing one weekly meat-based meal with fish would reduce CO2 emissions by 5-6%. Herring and sprat together account for 95% of marine fishing catch and over half of the total value. Herring is Finland's largest fish resource.  Fishing is prohibited during construction of wind power park.  Can trawling occur in offshore wind farm areas? Is there space? Herring spawning areas must be studied and protected - also from cable routes. Reports from Metsähallitus are requested for project-specific studies, but apparently not received.


After the presentations discussion followed.  ELY Centre's fishery biologist for Varsinais-Suomi commented that impact on fishing is evident and restrictions will come and vessels won't go everywhere. Through herring, the most nutrients are removed from the sea. How to remove nutrients if herring fishing decreases / stops? Only a couple of trawlers are on the coast of Ostrobothnia, but they are regionally very significant. Large offshore wind farms may affect wind what affects mixing of bottom and surface waters which is crucial for marine nature and biology.  This affects e.g., shore conditions through algal blooms. Salinity levels may change, and temperature stratification may change.


Foreign competitors for Finland's marine areas will come. Mrs Heini from Metsähallitus pointed out that  MH's tenders are international. Operators may also be consortia. Tiina Tihlman commented that the projects in the economic zone are so large that it is likely that the operators will be international. Economic zone was discussed: The state has the right to tax what is built there, not municipalities. There is no zoning in the economic zone.


Toni Lustilas idea was that new income source for fishermen could be the  transportation to offshore wind farms, maintenance and upkeep, even construction (staff transport + small amounts of material). In the coffee break discussions of the event, it emerged that developers have proposed this, but it is a sensitive issue, and perhaps not communicated correctly to fishermen.


After discussion group work was being done.  The groups identified challenges, strengths, and topics left out. Also one or two important issues to promote and noted a proposal for action were defined and the question how to address the issue was discussed. One proposal was: to increase national public open research data on geographically large topics / affecting all projects. Eg: migratory fish, ice characteristics and movements, impact of offshore wind power on acidification and eutrophication. The state administration should organize and coordinate a few key studies (as done for noise in onshore wind power).


 "Marine Energy Network Strategy". The government should take a position on the management and development of marine energy networks and responsibilities and obligations for ownership. Many stakeholders hope that a state institution (Fingrid / Gasgrid) will also be responsible for implementing main transmission links in the marine area in the future.


As we can see from the presentations and discussion topics there are still  many challenges to be solved while building offshore wind power parks. It is good that the authorities involve all stakeholders to participate in this  development work.


Text written from Toni Lustilas notes by principal lecturer Lotta Saarikoski, VAMKs Fesio project worker.

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