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Coal being used to replace natural gas – CO2 emissions of large Finnish cities have risen by one-fifth

Coal continued to be used in 2015 to replace natural gas in Finnish combined heat and power (CHP) production. This was found in a study updated by the consulting company Pöyry on the impacts of changes in energy taxation on CHP production. According to the current update, the replacement of natural gas has resulted in significant increases in carbon dioxide and local emissions in large cities in Southern Finland compared with the 2010 level.                     

In the cities covered by the Pöyry study (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere and Lahti), carbon dioxide emissions increased by around 20% between 2010 and 2015. This corresponds to 3.2% of Finland’s total greenhouse gas emissions. There has also been a significant increase in local emissions that are hazardous to human health. Particulate and sulfur dioxide emissions have doubled and nitrogen oxide emissions increased by one-third.

The Pöyry study shows that the energy tax reform carried out in 2011 did not in all respects reach its objective of steering toward the use of low-emission fuels. In 2010–2015 the fuel taxes (energy-content tax and CO2 tax) levied on natural gas increased sevenfold, while the corresponding taxes on coal only tripled over the same period. Despite the energy charge of natural gas having decreased by more than 40% since 2012, the repeated tax increases have contributed toward considerable reductions in the price competitiveness of gas against coal.

The benefits of natural gas in combined heat and power (CHP) production are clear. Replacing the use of coal with natural gas is the speediest and most cost-effective way to reduce the use of coal in Finland without making any additional investments. Carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas combustion are around 40% lower than those from coal, in addition to which the level of harmful local emissions is also very low. Gasum has presented a model for the reform of fuel taxation that would steer toward the use of low-emission fuels, encourage energy-efficient CHP production and promote self-sufficiency in electricity generation.

For further information please contact:

Jouni Haikarainen, Senior Vice President, Natural Gas Business Unit, Gasum Ltd Phone: 020 44 78 481

Olga Väisänen, Vice President, Communications, Gasum Ltd
 Phone: +358 20 44 78 628 firstname.surname(a)