Potential very cold weather in the winter will raise electricity consumption to record level

Fingrid Oyj, which is responsible for the electricity transmission grid in Finland, estimates that during potential very cold weather this winter, electricity consumption in Finland will rise to a record level of 15,200 megawatts. Domestic production capacity is not sufficient to cover the consumption, which is why electricity must also be imported from abroad. The peak consumption situation can be managed without power cuts if imports and production do not encounter unexpected problems. Last Saturday, Fingrid had to issue a warning of a strained power balance when there was a sudden production interruption in Olkiluoto 2 nuclear power unit.Electricity production must correspond to consumption at all times, because it is not possible to store electricity. The highest electricity consumption figures in Finland are naturally reached during very cold weather when electric heating is needed in residential houses and other buildings.

Fingrid estimates that on a cold winter day, electricity consumption in Finland will rise to a record level of approx. 15,200 megawatts this winter. A consumption peak as high as this is reached statistically once in 10 years. Fingrid has made advance preparations for such an eventuality.

The consumption peak requires a temperature below -20 degrees Celsius in Southern Finland and below -30 degrees in other parts of Finland. The previous consumption record of 14,900 megawatts was reached in February 2007. During peak consumption, domestic electricity production accounts for approx. 13,200 megawatts, including peak power capacity. The deficit - approx. 2,000 megawatts - must be covered by imports from Sweden, Russia and Estonia. Moreover, there is 1,000 megawatts of disturbance reserve for faults in power plants and on the cross-border lines.

The situation may become complicated even in the absence of very cold weather in extraordinary situations. On Saturday 5 January 2008, Fingrid issued a warning of a strained power balance in Finland. Such a warning is rare; one was most previously issued during the very cold weather in the winter of 2006. The warning on Saturday was prompted by a production interruption at Olkiluoto 2 while at the same time it was not possible to obtain other additional production in time in Finland. Electricity consumption in Finland on Saturday evening totalled approx. 12,700 megawatts, electricity production was 9,200 megawatts, and a full volume of electricity was imported into Finland (approx. 3,500 megawatts). The situation did not ultimately lead to a power shortage.
Almost full transmission capacity available Transmission capacity between Finland and other countries will be in almost full use during the winter period. During the early part of the year, 400 kV aluminium towers will be replaced with steel towers in the Varkaus and Kuopio region in Eastern Finland. This work will not restrict the import capacity to Finland. Imports from Russia will be limited by 200 megawatts until mid-January due to maintenance work at the North-West Power Plant near St Petersburg. No limitations are expected on the connections from Estonia during the winter period.

The peak power capacity conforming to the Finnish Power Reserve Act will be in a starting readiness of 12 hours throughout the winter. If the condensing power plants covered by the arrangement are not in operation on the basis of market factors, Fingrid can have them started in a strained power balance situation to secure continued power balance.

If a very cold weather front extends simultaneously to the St Petersburg region, Finland and Southern Sweden, there may be restrictions in electricity imports from Russia into Finland on account of the power situation in St Petersburg. Imports from Sweden would likely also be smaller than normally. In such a situation, it is possible that Fingrid’s gas turbine plants, which are held in disturbance reserve, might have to be used to cover consumption.

The most extreme measure in a potential power shortage situation is to cut electricity consumption for short periods of time. In order to cut consumption, Fingrid requests local network operators to implement measures in their regions so that they impose a minimum of disturbance to functions vital to society.

The potential power cuts would be circulated, and their maximum duration would be a couple of hours. The network operators have plans for such situations.

Fingrid uses a three-step procedure when the balance between electricity consumption and production is becoming compromised. Fingrid informs the electricity market parties of the strained power balance and also provides real-time information on its website. Further information:
Reima Päivinen, Senior Vice President, tel. +358 (0)30 395 5160
Jukka Ruusunen, President & CEO, tel. +358 (0)40 593 8428