3.11.2015 11:45
Press Releases, Power System, Electricity Market

Electricity shortage is possible during a cold winter

In the coming winter, Finland will be even more dependent than before on electricity imports. The forecast for peak electricity consumption during the winter 2015-2016 is about the same as last winter, 15,000 megawatts, but the ability to produce electricity in Finland has decreased. Up to 3,400 megawatts of electricity will need to be imported from neighbouring countries. There is little room for faults in production plants and transmission connections, and the risk of short-term restrictions on electricity consumption has increased.
At any given time, we have to produce as much electricity as is being consumed. Finland's own electricity production capacity is insufficient to cover our consumption during peak winter consumption situations. Closures of Finnish power plants have further weakened the situation from previous years.
The need for electricity imports in the coming winter will rise to a level of 3,400 megawatts on a very cold day. This means that one-fifth of the estimated peak consumption of 15,000 megawatts has to be imported from abroad. In other words, we need more imports than the total amount of electricity produced by all of our nuclear power plants combined. This situation will go on for the next few years. Not even the commissioning of Olkiluoto 3 will stop us from being dependent on imports.
Finland is part of the electricity market of the Baltic Sea region. The market mechanism directs electricity where there is the most demand for it and ensures that electricity is produced in the most efficient manner. On the common market, electricity needs in Finland do not have to be entirely covered by domestic production, but electricity can be imported from neighbouring countries via Fingrid's transmission connections. Price spikes are a message from the electricity market that power is scarce and investments need to be made to increase transmission and production capacity. The demand for electricity is also expected to decrease as the price rises.
Fingrid estimates that transmission connections will be sufficient to import the required electricity to Finland in the coming winter and that electricity will be available in neighbouring countries. However, there is little room for faults in production plants and transmission connections, and the possibility of short-term restrictions on electricity consumption has increased. Fingrid is investigating opportunities for constructing new electricity transmission connections together with the Swedish main grid owner. Even if we end up constructing a new connection, it will not be available for several years.
A power shortfall, caused by the momentary insufficiency of electrical power and also popularly known as an electricity shortage, is a manageable situation for which transmission system operator Fingrid is prepared, in cooperation with local distribution network owners.  Restrictions on electricity consumption would most likely apply to a small minority of electricity consumers and only up to a few hours. Electricity supply for functions important to society can also be secured in cases of a power shortfall.
Today, Fingrid is organising a customer event at Messukeskus, dealing with the future of the electricity system and the increasing Nordic cooperation between transmission system operators. Webcasts of Fingrid's Grid Day seminar presentations can be viewed online. The seminar programme starts at 1.00 pm, and it can be viewed live over the internet until 4.00 pm, or later as recorded videos.
Further information:
Jukka Ruusunen, President & CEO, tel. +358 30 395 5140 or +358 40 593 8428
Reima Päivinen, Senior Vice President, tel. +358 30 395 5160 or +358 40 556 2662
Appendix: Image of the power balance during the winter 2015-2016

Webcasting broadcast from the Grid Day seminar (link also on the www.fingrid.fi website):