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Cablegate: Finnish Minister Keen to Expand Biogas Usage

VZCZCXRO5750
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHHE #0580 2111030
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301030Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3621
INFO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ EPA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS HELSINKI 000580

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
STATE PASS FOR OES/EFENDLEY
WHITE HOUSE FOR CEQ/DBANKS
EPA FOR PGUNNING

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG TRGY SENV EAGR PINR FI
SUBJECT: FINNISH MINISTER KEEN TO EXPAND BIOGAS USAGE

REF: HELSINKI 00131, HELSINKI 00173

1. (SBU) Summary: Finland's Minister of Trade and Industry recently
returned from a two-day fact finding mission in Germany to examine
German use of biogas and other renewable energy resources. This
trip may signal an increased emphasis by Pekkarinen -- a strong
advocate of renewable energy -- in developing domestic biogas
resources. A supporter of international efforts to increase the use
of renewable energy sources, particularly in Central America,
Finland may prove to be a strong partner in the Methane to Markets
Partnership in the future. End Summary.

Minister Explores Biogas Use in Germany
---------------------------------------
2. (U) Finnish Trade and Industry Minister Mauri Pekkarinen (Center
Party) recently returned from a two-day visit to Germany where he
studied German efforts to develop new renewable energy resources,
particularly utilizing biogas. During the visit, Pekkarinen toured
a new biogas facility in Pliening, Germany that produces biogas (a
mixture of gases including methane, CH4, and carbon dioxide, CO2)
from agricultural crops that is fed directly into the existing
natural gas network. Pekkarinen also met with Werner Schnappauf,
Bavarian Minister of State for People and the Environment, as well
as officials from German energy giant E.ON. Building upon the GOF's
plan to develop additional alternative sources of energy, Pekkarinen
also visited geothermal and solar power facilities in Germany.

A Case for Biogas in Finland
----------------------------
3. (SBU) Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen has consolidated control of
energy/climate change issues under the leadership of his Center
Party. The current GOF plan sets high expectations for addressing
climate change and building clean energy capacity, with biofuels
playing a leading role in this strategy. The GOF plan also states
that technology is essential in addressing energy and environmental
challenges in the future. A strong advocate of biofuels and biomass
sources, Pekkarinen has vocally stated that energy generation must
come from diverse sources beyond simply fossil fuels and nuclear
power.

4. (U) Though a small player in methane recovery due to its overall
size, Finland has been utilizing methane from landfills for power
generation for nearly a decade. Methane is gathered from almost
forty landfills in Finland including the largest landfill in the
Nordic countries, Ammassuo. Further reflecting E.ON's great
interest in methane as a source of power, E.ON's district heating
plant in Espoo (Finland's third largest city) uses the methane from
the Ammassuo landfill to provide equivalent heating for over 10,000
detached homes. Finland also reclaims methane from wastewater and
solid waste treatment plants, industrial sites, and farms. To
further signal his personal interest in expanding methane use,
Pekkarinen was joined on his fact finding trip to Germany by Erkki
Kalmari, owner of a small farm that produces methane for automobiles
in Pekkarinen's home town of Jyvaskyla. Kalmari has created some
localized interest in Finland's biofuels market, and Pekkarinen --
who proudly drives a methane-powered car -- frequently stops at his
farm to fuel up.

International Support of Renewable Energy Projects
--------------------------------------------- -----
5. (U) Since 2002, the GOF has sponsored a unique project in Central
America that encourages the development of renewable and clean
energy sources in the region. The Energy and Environment
Partnership with Central America (EEP), a 7 million euro program,
has already supported over 100 promising renewable energy projects
in Central America that would otherwise lack necessary funding.
Modeled after the U.S. private-public partnership concepts, many of
the renewable energy projects have focused on energy from biogas.
In fact, the last EEP Forum in February 2007 dealt specifically with
securing funding for biogas projects in the region.

6. (SBU) Comment. First raised during the U.S.-EU High Level
Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development
in Helsinki last October, the Methane to Markets Partnership (M2M)
continues to be a strong talking point for Ambassador Ware and the
Economic Section when visiting with GOF officials including
Pekkarinen. While showing polite interest, GOF officials have yet to
proactively inquire further about M2M; however, Pekkarinen's recent
trip may represent a renewed interest in methane use in Finland,
holding the door open for the GOF joining M2M in the future. An
engaged partner in many international organizations, membership in
M2M would be a natural fit for Finland, especially considering its
existing international commitment to finance projects utilizing
biogas in Central America. End comment.

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