Finland's largest solar installation will be built on the roof of the Kaleva printing company Oulu, one of the northernmost cities in the world

City with 3.5 hour winter days to host Finland's largest solar plant

A Finnish energy company has announced it will build Finland’s largest solar plant in Oulu, a city in the north of the country where daylight in winter can last only 3.5 hours.

With construction set to begin this month, the plant, to be located on the roof of a local printing company, is expected to start generating electricity by June 2015. The installation consisting of 1,600 solar panels will have a total panel surface area of about 2,400 square metres. Together with all supporting equipment it will cover an area about half the size of a football field. Oulun Energia Group, the firm behind the project, said it could be producing up to 420 kilowatts of power, equivalent to installations in northern Germany.

“On a clear summer day, we expect to gain up to 90 per cent of the electricity required to run the Kaleva printing operations via solar,” said Esko Jokelainen, CFO of the Kaleva printing company.

“Annually, the solar energy obtained should cover about 10 per cent of the printing house’s electricity costs.”

Ahead of announcing the project, Oulun Energia Group has run a small-scale pilot study involving 16 local homes in Oulu to verify how much energy can be produced.

“Solar energy and other distributed energy production solutions will proliferate in the next few years and therefore create more jobs in northern Finland as well,” says Oulun Energia Group’s sales director, Seppo Tuomi.

One of the northernmost cities in the world, Oulu, with a population of 200,000, is by no means an obvious location for building a solar plant. However, the Nordic city, the sixth largest in Finland, is spearheading the renewable revolution in the country.

Home to Europe’s largest technology park and with the fifth highest spending on technology research and development in Europe, the city has played a role of a living lab with residents experimenting with new technologies from ICT to cleantech.

“Solar energy systems are suitable for both businesses and consumers,” Oulun Energia Group stated in a report. “Using them in the summer time to cool down property is particularly profitable. The cost of the panels is low, the payback period is reasonable and in ideal locations, the costs are clearly cheaper than grid electricity.”


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