"The forest branch is already the biggest producer of bioenergy, but I believe that wood-based products will experience a new renaissance now as we seek answers to climate questions," said Stefan Sundman, who is Head of Energy and Environment at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
Forest industry products bind carbon dioxide throughout their life cycle
"The forest industries offer solutions to curb climate change," Sundman points out. "The forest industries produce climate-friendly products that have a positive impact on the carbon balance throughout their life cycle. Wood binds atmospheric carbon, which is stored in forest industry products. Products can be recycled and converted to bioenergy at the end of their life cycle. When forest industry products are used to replace products made from nonrenewable raw materials in the construction and packaging industries, for example, the positive climate effects are considerable," Sundman continues.
Needed: an attractive and predictable operating environment
One precondition for proceeding with projects involving new forest industry products is a long-term energy policy that ensures cost competitiveness. The forest industries’ competitive existing products are a good basis for developing new business opportunities.
The forest industries are paying a lot of attention to reducing emissions. Good results have been achieved in improving energy efficiency and significant investments have been made in bioenergy. Nevertheless, attracting biorefineries and other investments to Finland requires that energy costs, access to electricity and taxation are on a competitive level compared with neighbouring countries and globally. National energy policy must be carefully planned and predictable if Finland is to compete successfully in producing innovative products in the forest sector.
There has traditionally been skilful energy politics in Finland and it needs to be continued. As Minister of Economic Affairs Mauri Pekkarinen noted yesterday, the Finnish Government should abolish the electricity tax on industry altogether and remove the tax imposed on renewable bio-based fuels. In this way we can promote the development and competitiveness of Finnish production in the branch.
Broader use can be made of local raw materials and forest expertise can be developed in Finland
The forest industries have the technology, know-how and infrastructure to build the next generation of biorefineries. The branch is a pioneer in developing new bioproducts. In addition to biofuels, the biochemicals, plastics and composites that can be refined from wood and its components are expanding the forest industries’s field of operation. Wood-based bioproducts, smart packages, housing solutions and medicinal substances are examples of innovative product development. This path of development should be continued and intensified in every way to keep forest industry expertise on the cutting edge in Finland.
Stefan Sundman, Head of Energy and Environmental Issues,
Finnish Forest Industries Federation,
tel. +358 40 535 0501