Consumer’s role growing

The future electricity system highlights the importance of consumers’ choices.

The traditional thinking has been that electricity production matches electricity consumption at any given time. With a green electricity system, a considerable proportion of the electricity generated is weather-dependent: sometimes the skies are clear and the sun shines, and sometimes even the strongest winds become still. Before the large-scale storage of electricity becomes common, this means that it must be possible to match electricity consumption with electricity production on an entirely new scale.

The changing electricity system will mean consumers will play a more prominent role. In future, consumers will be able to help combat climate change and at the same time gain financial benefits by being flexible in their use of electricity in response to the situation in the electricity system. In Finland, especially homes that are heated with electricity will have excellent opportunities to participate in realising the energy change. The growing use of electric cars offer consumers additional flexibility opportunities.

Some consumers are already purchasing their electricity at hourly prices and switching their consumption times from high-priced to lower-priced hours. In future, consumers will also be able to give electricity suppliers and other service providers the opportunity to smartly guide their electricity consumption according to price. For example, electrical heating can be controlled automatically without compromising in living comfort.

On the path to the future electricity system, it will also be possible to offer consumers demand-side management in real time in order to maintain a balance in the power system. Service providers will combine consumers’ electricity consumption and production into a larger entity, for example by combining the capacity of electrically heated homes’ hot-water tanks or thermal pumps. Service providers will offer demand-side management to real-time markets that support the system’s balance on behalf of consumers.

The consumer must obtain monetary benefits from participating in demand-side management, and the participation must be as easy as possible.