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The future is built in workshops and competitions

Sometimes the best perspectives come from an entirely different industry. Recently, Fingrid has actively tested some of the different concepts for bringing competence together and creating innovation. For example, various innovation events and competitions create an inspiring atmosphere, which in the best cases leads to new creative, productive cooperation.

So far, the experiences of the new innovation methods have been extremely positive. Cooperation is under way with start-up companies, for example.

Using RadiCamp to find solutions for the power system management

One of the key challenges for the future lies in power system management, as the system becomes ever more decentralised and complex. This is important during normal operation, but it is vital during disturbances in particular. Fingrid’s control room must constantly have a good overview of the power system’s status, and if possible, a prediction of its expected status in the near future.

The RadiCamp concept was used to help find solution models. RadiCamp is a service developed by Innotiimi-ICG, wherein external parties help to find concrete solutions for a company’s strategic challenge.

“This approach is based on an understanding that we can’t do everything ourselves. We come up with new ideas and better solutions when there are skilled workers from several different industries involved in the development work,” explains R&D Manager Jussi Matilainen.

The RadiCamp method is based on workshops. The change in operational environment is first charted in work groups. Then a different set-up asks about the interest groups’ expectations and needs with regard to the status overview and, in this case, control room operations. The rest of the workshops focus on developing and testing the solutions.

A strategic project, Valvomo 2023, is also related to power system management. This project aims to develop a functional model for the future control room, and solutions to achieve this aim.

“One primary goal is better status overview management. The status overview should provide a real-time and accurate overview of the state of the power system,” says Matilainen.

It is also essential to come up with a solution as to how the status overview could be shared between key interest groups in the future. How can we forward the information to the authorities, the police, the fire department, citizens, and the media?

“We are also dependent on data from distribution networks and other interest groups to form part of the status overview. One solution could be an online area where different parties are able to view the information they require.

Maintenance idea competition attracts 60 proposals

In spring 2018, Fingrid opened an idea competition with the aim of developing new maintenance measurement methods and practices. The idea competition concerned the productisation of sensor systems for switching devices, the measurement of power system component temperatures, and the condition monitoring of insulators.

Development aimed to ensure the high system security of the grid, improve grid availability, and improve cost-efficiency. The idea and productisation competition was organised in cooperation with Spinverse. The competition included a partner search for companies, associations and teams of all sizes who want to develop business in the field of condition maintenance. A total of around 60 proposals were submitted to the competition. Winners who will go through to further development projects and pilots were selected during the summer.

A hackathon kicked off high-level pilot projects

The hackathon is an idea competition and workshop which seeks solutions for problems with the aid of external sparring partners. Fingrid organised its first hackathon last autumn, which saw innovative teams producing excellent proposals for solutions for the development of the power system. Industryhack acted as the consultant for the working method.

Of seven participating hackathon teams, four were chosen and their proposals have now undergone further development. The teams’ first task related to the renewal of the power system and the inclusion of small producers and consumers on the markets. The task was to brainstorm how to transfer data from decentralised environments to Fingrid in real-time, data-securely, and cost-efficiently.

The second challenge was to solve how we can predict the state of the system by combining and analysing data from various sources like the energy market, the national production capacity and other relevant sources.

An international innovation competition is investigating spikes in consumption

Fingrid is involved in an international innovation challenge to which different kinds of energy industry visionaries have been invited. The aim of the competition is to find new solutions to ensure power system security in various ways, even during increasing spikes in consumption.

Ten ideas were selected for further development from the two-dozen excellent ideas submitted by the deadline. The group includes well-established companies as well as think-tanks involving just a couple of people.

The solutions differed greatly from one another in type: new technologies, services or pricing structures, or machine learning for use by distribution networks. The challenge was organised by Nordic Innovation Accelerator, Fingrid, Nord Pool, and Lahti Energia. Fingrid’s specialists have participated in mentoring the competitors and in assessing the competition proposals. Two participants were selected at the pitching and sparring event in June to compete at an international pitching event to be organised in London.



R&D Manager Jussi Matilainen

Heading towards new things

Storing electricity and frequency control

Helen Oy’s battery storage in Suvilahti, Helsinki, is investigating the utilisation of electricity storage from the perspectives of various parties. Of particular interest to Fingrid is how battery storage could be used to control the frequency of the grid. The three-year project has been under way for two years.

Helen is pilot-testing the use of battery storage to control local voltage. It is also investigating the use of battery storage as a source of reserve power.


MIGRATE is investigating the connection of renewable energy to the grid

MIGRATE is a Europe-wide research project funded by the EU commission and involving transmission system operators and universities from several countries. In the project, Fingrid is investigating methods for calculating and predicting power system inertia in particular.

New electricity production methods such as wind and solar power are connected to the electricity grid in different ways than traditional power plants. The MIGRATE project is investigating how transmission system operators should account for this in their operations; does the quality of electricity change, or do we need to change protection devices, for example?

The topic is also examined on page 15 of the Practical question column.

The four-year project is in its third year. Read more:


Ester oils as transformer oils

Jenni-Julia Saikkonen, who wrote her master’s thesis at Fingrid, has investigated the environmental impact of ester oils from a cost-efficiency perspective. Ester oils are alternative transformer oils. Their advantages are that they are biodegradable and have better fire safety than traditional oils. Mineral-based oils are traditionally used in transformers, but are extremely flammable, which poses the risk of an explosive oil fire.

Ester oil is a cost-efficient solution in particular cases, such as in densely populated urban areas, or areas near vulnerable natural sites. In this case, savings are made in risk management. In other situations, mineral-based oils are more cost-efficient. Solutions must be selected on a case-by-case basis for each station.


Indirect carbon footprints

In her thesis, Saara Pohjalainen is investigating Fingrid’s indirect greenhouse gas emissions. Indirect emissions refer to emissions caused by the company’s operations, even though the source of the emissions is not owned by Fingrid. Direct greenhouse gas emissions on the other hand are created by sources owned by Fingrid.

The aim is to investigate where indirect emissions come from, in what quantities, and how the emissions can be prevented. The thesis for the Tampere University of Technology will be complete in 2018.