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Good preparations for electricity shortages

The voluntary power system support procedure covers flexible capacity equivalent to one nuclear power unit.

Fingrid developed a voluntary power system support procedure to avoid power cuts due to electricity shortages. The aim is to make use of potential flexibility outside the electricity market of at least one megawatt per operator.

Fingrid sends a text message to the operators involved, asking them to be prepared when an electricity shortage is possible. When the risk of an electricity shortage is high, Fingrid sends an activation request. Finally, Fingrid sends a message to confirm when the situation is no longer a concern.

The procedure is not mandatory at any stage – operators reduce their electricity consumption as much as they can. The procedure involves 50 operators, including real estate companies, industrial operators and municipal entities. Altogether, the flexible capacity is over 500 megawatts, equivalent to the output of one unit at the Loviisa nuclear power plant.

“Some of the parties involved have reserve power units that they can start up if necessary. Others are able to reduce their electricity consumption at critical times. The one-megawatt flexibility target can also be reached by combining both approaches or multiple sites,” says Tuomas Mattila, Expert at Fingrid.

Lowering power

Boliden, a mining and metals company, is involved in the procedure, offering a total of nearly 20 megawatts of demand-side management at its copper and nickel smelter and copper electrolysis plant in Harjavalta and its Kevitsa mine in Sodankylä. The Swedish company also has a zinc plant in Kokkola, Finland.

Boliden consumes over two per cent of Finland’s electricity, amounting to approximately two terawatt-hours a year.

“We have been actively involved in the flexibility market for years – we adjust our consumption when the spot price rises. Our Kokkola plant offers the most potential for flexibility. We also have some irregular consumption patterns that we cannot put on the flexibility market. However, we can commit to a voluntary procedure,” says Mika Lehtimäki, Energy Manager at Boliden.

“Furnace power can be reduced in the event of an electricity shortage, even though this means less production.”

For example, the furnace power can be reduced in the event of an electricity shortage, even though this means less production.

“Large processes contain points where the power level can be reduced in a controlled manner. However, the idea of a full power outage is frightening – a sudden stop could damage the equipment, and it takes a long time to restart a continuous process after an unplanned stoppage. That is why we are doing everything we can to prevent power cuts.”

Mild discomfort can be tolerated

Antilooppi, a real estate investment firm specialising in business premises, also volunteered to help prevent power cuts. An estimated one megawatt of flexibility is available by reducing the electricity consumed by the company’s properties.

“When we were drawing up our contingency plan, we realised how important it is to avoid power outages. For example, illuminated exit signs can work without mains power for about an hour, so people can safely leave the offices, but the electric tilt-up doors in car parks would be problematic,” says Jani Winter, Associate Director, Facility Management at Antilooppi.

In most cases, ventilation systems can be taken offline for a couple of hours without having a critical impact.

“Mild discomfort is tolerable if you compare the effects with a full-scale power cut,” Winter says.

The company’s contingencies for electricity shortages have proven useful.

“We thought about how to disseminate information within our organisation and to our tenants, including instructions. It was motivating and challenging for us to expand our knowledge in our own field – now we are better prepared to face other exceptional circumstances,” Winter says.

Fingrid is happy with the way the system was received.

“It has been great to see so many Finnish operators taking social responsibility and supporting the power system in its time of need,” Tuomas Mattila says.

“In the spring, we will take stock of what we have learned and assess the outlook for next winter. The procedure may still be needed then.”


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