Reliable electricity and company synergies: Nivos Group is growing fast

The Mäntsälä-based energy group Nivos has increased the size of its customer base and regional grid in recent years. The group is closely involved in developing infrastructure in the area. In addition to its core activities – electricity, heat and water distribution – the company provides a diverse range of energy and heating solutions and online services. The goals of sustainable development guide investments.

he company operates in 10 municipalities in the central Uusimaa and southern Päijät-Häme areas. This is a large operating area, and the Nivos electricity grid stretches to the southern parts of Lahti, Orimattila in the east and Hyvinkää in the west.

Nivos Energia has operated under the Nivos brand since 2015, and the same applies to its subsidiary Nivos Vesi. In recent years, operations have expanded rapidly. The latest change involved merging Pukkila’s heat and water businesses with the group in 2017.

Nivos is a diverse company, and has taken advantage of new technical systems and digitalisation to make its operations more efficient.

“The service range has grown at the same time as new technology has become more a part of our everyday lives. For example, demand for household solar panels is increasing all the time. The company’s optical fibre grid is also growing, and the next step involves extending it to the Järvelä district in Kärkölä,” says Operations Manager Jarno Virtanen from Nivos.


Ring network improves reliability of supply

The most significant recent investments have been construction of a 110 kV ring network along the Lahti Motorway and the Hikiä-Kapuli transmission line, which will be completed in summer 2019. Reliability of supply for the Nivos electricity grid is good at all voltage levels, and the 110 kV ring network and a new third main grid connection provide further insurance in this regard.

“At the lower voltage level, our calculated outage time per customer was only 30 minutes in 2017 while the corresponding figure for comparison companies was 3 hours,” confirms Jarno Virtanen.

Technology has been applied for this purpose, and certain tasks in repairing outage situations have been automated. The system is able to make decisions independently, which noticeably speeds up handling of the outage.

A transformer sensor project is currently underway in Mäntsälä.

“In the best case, ultrasound sensors installed in the transformers allow us to begin dealing with disturbances before the customer even notices them,” says Virtanen.

The company wants to continue improving its ability to forecast disturbances.

“We also utilise data analysis and simulation models when planning disturbance repair resources, and we increase the number of on-call staff when weather forecasts indicate that strong winds are expected. Analysing data and using sensor data means that we’re even more prepared to predict the exact time of disturbances.”

In addition to new technology and data analysis projects, decentralised solutions are an important part of development work. For example, Nivos is now cooperating with farms and horse farms in the area on biogas production projects. A biogas plant that is currently under construction at Palopuro in Hyvinkää will refine biogas for transport use.

More companies, more electricity

Completion of the Hikiä-Kapuli transmission line will provide Mäntsälä with a third main grid connection. The investments will ensure reliability of supply in an area where the number of households and companies is growing fast.

“Of course, companies need a reliable electricity supply and the new transmission line will provide it,” states Virtanen.

The Mäntsälä region has been developing rapidly. Over the past 10 years, the amount of electricity supplied by Nivos has increased from less than 300 gigawatt hours to approximately 500 gigawatt hours.

The Kapuli industrial area is particularly busy in terms of new business facility construction.

“Recticel Insulation will begin operating in the area at the end of 2018, and Nivos will provide the company with electricity, heat, gas, water and optical fibre. We try to make everything as easy as possible for the customer, and Nivos handles the connection process according to the “one-stop” principle,” explains Jarno Virtanen.


Data centre provides heat for district heating network

Sustainable development is the guiding principle for all Nivos operations. The company focuses on reducing and recycling customers’ waste heat, utilising waste, and recycling materials.

For example, waste heat produced at the large Yandex data centre is channelled into the Nivos district heating network all year round. The heat recovered from spring to autumn is enough to cover the heating needs of the entire Mäntsälä town centre. On a yearly level, “data heat” covers half the needs of the town centre. Yandex plans to expand its machine rooms, which means that the amount of reusable heat will also increase.

“In the future, we’ll be able to utilise waste heat even more efficiently and simultaneously reduce the need for natural gas. This supports our CO2 emissions reduction goals. Emissions from district heating have already dropped significantly.”

Heat is also being recovered from the recently completed waste water treatment plant. The heat energy in the waste water entering the plant is recovered and used to heat the Nivos buildings.


A diversified company that uses best practices

Nivos has about 70 employees, and approximately 300 people work in its partner company network. Customer companies buy electrical energy and expert services from Nivos, such as operations manager services.

“Operational efficiency and quality are dependent on cooperation between experts. We work well together,” says Virtanen, who has been with the company for more than 10 years.

“Experts in the areas of electricity, heat, internet and water meet regularly for discussions, which allows us to find solutions quickly and disseminate information. Different operating areas may be dealing with challenges that are surprisingly similar in nature.”

 

Electricity grid operations can be handled remotely from a control room or even by laptop by the on-call staff at home. This speeds up the repair of any disturbances, say Petri Sorjonen and Cabriel Reapalu.