1.14 Environmental matters

Fingrid’s operations have a significant positive impact on the environment and climate. By reinforcing the electricity transmission grid for the needs of clean electricity production, Fingrid helps Finland reach its climate goals. Other environmental impacts of significance caused by the company’s operations are related to the consumption of natural resources and climate impact during grid construction and maintenance, the climate impact of energy losses occurring during electricity transmission, the impacts of transmission lines on nature, landscape and land use and possible fuel and oil leaks from substations and reserve power plants. 

When building and maintaining the main grid, landowners and other stakeholders are taken into account, and environmental impacts are reduced at all stages of the main grid’s life cycle in accordance with Fingrid’s land-use and environmental policy. Key aspects include a thorough environmental impact assessment (EIA) and preparedness for environmental risks. Fingrid’s reserve power plants have an ISO 14001 environmental certification.

The contractors and service providers responsible for taking care of the main grid were committed to environmentally responsible operating practices in line with Fingrid’s land-use and environmental policy through contractual terms, training and audits. All personnel working at Fingrid’s work sites completed online training on environmental matters. Service providers received environmental training when investment projects were started and environmental aspects were monitored at the work site as part of work site monitoring. Compliance with environmental requirements, occupational safety and contractor obligations were verified in a total of nine audits. Two audits on overall safety and several audits related to the ISO 14001 environmental management system were carried out at reserve power plants. 

Fingrid’s reserve power plants are subject to an environmental permit and covered by the EU’s emissions trading scheme. The accuracy of the measuring and reporting systems for fuel consumption is verified by an accredited emissions trading verifier. A total of 5,142 (8,223) units (tCO2) of emission allowances were returned, 100 per cent of which consisted of purchased emission right units. Fingrid has not been granted free-of-charge emission rights for the emissions trade period 2013–2020. Purchased emission rights units amounted to 7,000 in 2019. Emissions trading had minor financial significance for Fingrid.

Our goal is to complete grid investment projects and maintenance without any significant environmental deviations. No significant environmental damage occurred during the year under review, but one incident classified as significant that had occurred in the previous year surfaced during the year. Materials from work sites were recycled as efficiently as possible when building new grid sections and substations or dismantling old structures. The total volume of waste during the year was approximately 13,920 tonnes, of which 98 per cent was utilised in some way and 89 per cent was recycled.

Fingrid actively participates in land-use planning to ensure safety and land-use reservations for the grid. In 2019, the company issued around 240 statements on land-use plans and EIAs. In addition, Fingrid directed the construction and operations taking place near grid installations by issuing statements containing safety guidelines and land-use restrictions. The number of such statements issued was 440.

An EIA was conducted to assess the human and environmental impacts of the transmission line project from Huittinen to Forssa and the transmission lines for Sweden’s third AC connection from Muhos via Keminmaa to Ylitornio. Local residents were informed beyond statutory practices through land-owner letters and local newspaper ads, and the projects were presented in three public events that were open to all.

Fingrid received an expropriation permit ruling necessary to build, operate and maintain the Forest Line, Pyhänselkä-Nuojuankangas, Kontiolahti–Uimaharju and Imatra-Huutokoski transmission lines. An expropriation permit application was submitted for the transmission line projects Pyhänselkä–Nuojuankangas, Imatra–Huutokoski and Kontiolahti–Palojärvi. The expropriation compensation process was completed for the transmission line projects Lieto–Forssa and Elovaara-Pinsiö. Nine hearings in accordance with the Finnish Expropriation Act were held with landowners.

The service providers who carry out maintenance work and trim vegetation along power line right-of-ways were instructed to take landowners and natural sites into account and to take care of waste and chemicals. In a bid to increase the utilisation of right-of-ways, land owners were offered information both in connection with the projects and through other communications initiatives and they were granted initial funding for managing the right-of-ways as heritage habitats.

In 2019, altogether 132 megawatts of wind power was connected to Fingrid’s main grid, which will indirectly avoid emissions worth around 72,000 carbon dioxide equivalent tonnes in the coming years. In addition, Fingrid concluded during the year agreements on connecting a total of approximately 2,000 megawatts of wind power production to the electricity grid. Once realised, this will lead to a substantial positive climate impact, indirectly avoiding emissions worth around 1.1 million carbon dioxide equivalent tonnes. Fingrid’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2019 totalled approximately 200,000 carbon dioxide equivalent tonnes.