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The Main Grid Control Centre ensures the availability of electricity around the clock

Fingrid’s Main Grid Control Centre in Helsinki works all hours of the day to ensure that every village, town and city in Finland has enough electricity. The control centre handles routine tasks, as well as unplanned tasks when a swift reaction is needed to prevent disturbances in the availability of electricity. Some disturbances also affect the intra-day electricity price.

The control centre employs 22 operators and two managers who work in three shifts. Normally, the control centre is staffed by three or four people during the day and two at night.

7:00 AM Change of shift

The morning begins with the changing of the guard at 7 o’clock when the operators finishing their shifts and the incoming team review information about the grid’s transmission capacity, any disturbances, the impacts of weather conditions and the state of the power system over the preceding 24-hour period.

10:30 AM Transmission capacity notices: market parties submit their offers to the power exchange

From the perspective of the market, the most important job of the morning is to determine the electricity transmission capacities between different price areas. Finnish main grid is connected to the neighbouring systems via high-voltage transmission links from Sweden, Norway and Estonia, as well as the direct-current transmission link from Russia.

“In the morning, we assess the available transmission capacity for the day ahead and submit the information to the power exchange’s systems. Market parties also submit their buy and sell offers, which form the basis for determining the hourly spot price for the day ahead,” says Maarit Uusi­talo, Fingrid’s Control Centre Manager.

1:50 PM Trades for the following day are completed

In addition to the day-ahead market, market parties can balance their electricity generation and consumption on the intraday market, where electricity is continuously traded close to the moment of delivery. After transactions on the intraday market, Fingrid balances out the hourly electricity consumption and generation via the balancing power market.

“Finland is dependent on imported electricity, so disturbances in the Nordic transmission connections have an immediate impact on the intraday electricity price. For example, if there is a disturbance in the northern transmission connection to Sweden, the need for and price of balancing power must be reassessed in order to maintain system security,” says Rami Kaunola, who is in charge of balance management on the main grid.

“Fingrid is tasked with keeping the transmission connections to the other Nordic countries open so that electricity can be traded as flexibly as possible on the Nordic exchange. This is our contribution to promoting the trading of electricity on market terms,” Uusitalo says.

4:00 PM The intraday markets open for the following day, trading in cross-border connections opens

The main grid must operate without disruption so that electricity can be traded on market terms, ensuring there is enough electricity available at all times. The control centre takes care of the balance in the main grid, the power system and grid management. In practice, 14,400 kilometres of transmission lines, 116 substations and 1,400 switchyard areas require constant supervision.

“The increase in wind and solar energy volumes makes the management of the main grid more challenging. Rapid changes in wind conditions or flooding in the north of the country could cause imbalances and require other solutions for transmitting the electricity,” says Juha Karjalainen, who is in charge of managing the power system.

In the future, imbalance management will transition from one-hour monitoring periods to 15-minute monitoring, which is close to real-time monitoring. This will require more automation in the control centre, leading to additional monitoring requirements.

“In addition to automated monitoring, which is enabled by about 50 pieces of software, the control centre still handles some of its tasks throughout the day by telephone, as this is often the fastest way to get hold of the right people in the event of a disturbance,” Karjalainen says.

5:30 PM preliminary generation plans from balance responsible parties

During the coronavirus pandemic, the control centre has switched to a hybrid working model in which some employees work remotely.
Nowadays, most of the disturbances arising on the main grid can be handled using remote control in contrast with earlier times, when technicians would need to travel to substations to solve problems. Over the course of a year, the employees at Fingrid’s control centre make up to 40,000 phone calls and carry out 57,000 remote actions on the grid.

8:00 PM Daily Operational Call summarises the events of the day

The events of the past day are reviewed at a daily summary meeting between the Nordic countries. The Daily Operational Call addresses how smoothly trading has proceeded, how much transmission capacity is available for intraday trading the following day, the status of the grid, and preparations for challenges in the day ahead.

2:00 AM Inspections are conducted and checks are carried out to ensure there will be enough electricity the following day

“The control centre does not go to sleep at night, although the pace of work is slower. In addition to system monitoring, the duties carried out at night include inspections of the events in the previous 24 hours, verifications of load and generation forecasts to ensure there will be enough electricity in the coming morning, or prepares up- and down-regulation”, Kaunola says.



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