Towards a smaller carbon footprint

For a transmission system operator, the basis of operations is slightly different to what it is in many other companies. The aim of development work is not necessarily an increase in market share or the active launch of a product. Neither does the money invested in R&D activity always bring financial benefit in the same financial period. It is, however, also important to do sustained development work.

Fingrid’s executive management group monitors research and development work and determines its key areas of focus. One focus of development is maintaining power balance. The challenge arises when generation capable of power regulation decreases but the need for regulation increases. It is also important is to create the prerequisites for the development of new services. In the present situation, the key challenge is to develop services that promote the participation of consumers in the electricity market.

“Consumers are seen as customers and as an active group whose resources the grid can also take advantage of. For example, through an aggregate unit, a domestic hot water tank can offer reserve power for Fingrid if necessary,” says R&D Manager Jussi Matilainen.

This two-way operation should be easy and largely automated from the perspective of the consumer. Primarily through pricing, the consumer should be encouraged to choose a service package that enables utilisation of its reserves.

Efficient operations the key to everything

“One of our key drivers is to keep our carbon footprint low and save the planet. Practical solutions such as the development of a smart grid and other operating practices are ultimately aiming for this,” explains Matilainen.

At the moment, the topical issue is to meet the challenges created by the energy revolution. Many research projects are focusing on this issue.

For example, the construction of reserve power plants has previously been a great financial investment, which has had to be made even though they are needed very rarely. Now we are targeting new solutions that can ensure the flexibility of the electricity system by other means, so that reserve power plants do not need to be invested in at the present level. Examples of replacement methods are flexible consumption and different kinds of energy storages.

Traditionally, risky situations have been prepared for by ensuring that some transmission capacity is kept in reserve for the control of disturbance situations. Now that it is possible to control the system more precisely with smart technology, more transmission capacity than before can be released for the use of the market.

“We’ve already been doing this kind of thing for years, and so have been able to get more capacity into use without new construction and investments.

By international comparison, Fingrid’s operations are efficient even today. Through research work, we are aiming to find solutions that will enable us to keep costs reasonable in the future.”