The Forest Line, which runs from Muhos near Oulu to Petäjävesi in Central Finland, has been under construction since the autumn of 2019. The line will be completed in 2022, and it will be particularly significant in ensuring that Finland remains a single pricing area. Large, uniform bidding areas promote activity on the electricity market, and retaining a single pricing area is also one of Fingrid’s objectives.
The Forest Line’s capacity will also be needed to transmit imported electricity when a new cross-border connection to Sweden is completed over the Torniojoki river in 2025.
Work began on the Forest Line in autumn 2019 with tree-felling that will run to tens of thousands of cubic metres. In summer 2020, more than half of the foundations required along the line were complete, and towers will begin to be assembled on a grand scale in the coming autumn. The majority of the towers and conductors are now arriving on contractors’ worksites, and the materials are being taken out to the field. The first tower erection and cabling work is also starting up, says Hannu Kuikka, Project Manager at Fingrid.
“Foundations account for a substantial proportion of the financial footprint of construction, and good progress has been made on them. Although soil surveys were conducted, the terrain has not always been exactly as we expected. In the wettest marsh areas, it has been necessary to put some of the work on foundations on hold until the winter. The environmental impact must be kept to a minimum in Natura nature conservation zones, so these areas can only be approached by heavy machinery once we have been through a very cold spell,” he says.
The coronavirus pandemic has not held back progress on the Forest Line. In the spring, worksite meetings were held via remote connections, and work has carried on as normal in forested areas, with people working in small teams.
However, the coronavirus did cause some nerves to jangle as a shipment of transmission line towers from a Chinese steel supplier was delayed. In the end, the towers arrived at the Port of Oulu just one month behind schedule. Due to travel restrictions, quality assurance took place via remote connections.
“The trial assemblies were carefully videoed, and the materials are covered by very precise documentation,” says Maria Puhtila, Project Manager at Destia, a contractor.
Since this article was written, Puhtila has become a Fingrid employee.