Several uncertainties in the adequacy of electricity in the coming winter – Finns should be prepared for possible power outages caused by electricity shortages
Fingrid has published its first estimate of the adequacy of electricity for the coming winter. The war in Europe and the exceptional situation on the energy market have increased uncertainties related to the availability of electricity. As a result of the great uncertainties, Finns should be prepared for power outages caused by possible electricity shortages this coming winter.
The estimate of the power balance for the coming winter is similar to the previous winter. Fingrid estimates that electricity consumption can rise to around 15,100 megawatts in the coming winter's consumption peak. Domestic production is estimated to cover at best 12,300 MW, with an estimated additional 600 MW of power reserve. The Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant would compensate for the missing Russian imports.
Figure: Estimate of electricity production and consumption for the winter season 2022–2023, in a situation where the electricity system and market function without problems.
Several uncertainties in the electricity market
The exceptional situation in the electricity market causes significant uncertainties in the assessment of the adequacy of electricity in the winter. The cessation of imports of electricity and natural gas used in electricity production from Russia have further weakened the situation in Finland compared to previous winters. Other factors affecting the adequacy of electricity include:
- Schedule for the commissioning of the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant. A possible delay in the commissioning of the plant would significantly reduce the adequacy of electricity in Finland.
- Electricity trade with Sweden and Estonia. In previous years, in a situation of peak consumption, significant amounts of electricity have been imported from Sweden and Estonia, as well as from Russia. The availability of electricity from Sweden and the Baltics is affected by the countries' possible own problems with the adequacy of electricity, such as possible problems in the availability of natural gas in the Baltics.
- Failures of significant domestic power plants or electricity transmission connections in operation, as well as problems with the availability of power plant fuels, especially natural gas
- The rapid growth in wind power capacity contributes to improving the availability of electricity in Finland, but the impact of wind power on the adequacy of electricity is determined by wind conditions. Wind power capacity is estimated to be approximately 5,000 megawatts in full production by the end of 2022.
- Energy saving and timing the use of electricity have a significant impact on the adequacy of electricity.
In peak consumption situations, the normal operation of the electricity system and the electricity market contributes to the maintenance of the system. Simultaneous disturbances at significant electricity generation facilities or in electricity transmission connections can pose challenges to the adequacy of electricity. A severe frost period, which simultaneously affects Finland and other countries in the Baltic Sea region, causes a particularly challenging situation. In such cases, electricity consumption is high, and the availability of imported electricity can be jeopardised.
"We are working closely with the authorities and transmission system operators in the Baltic Sea region to promote measures related to the adequacy of electricity. The reliable operation of the electricity market, domestic power plants and inter-country electricity transmission connections will be absolutely essential for the adequacy of electricity in the coming winter," says Tuomas Rauhala, Senior Vice President, Power System Operation at Fingrid.
The risk of electricity shortages is possible
An electricity shortage is considered to have arisen when production and imports are not enough to cover consumption. Fingrid operates and manages the functioning of the electricity system in accordance with its system responsibility so that the reliable operation of the entire Finnish power system can be ensured. In the event of an electricity shortage, this means in practice limiting the consumption of electricity until the electricity shortage is over.
"In practice, in the event of an electricity shortage, Fingrid will inform the local distribution network companies of the total amount of power to be disconnected from each distribution network company's area, and after this, power outages will be recycled as two-hour outages until the electricity shortage has ended," Rauhala says.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and other parties in the energy sector advise on how every Finn can influence electricity shortages. By now at the latest, we should take the advice and tips into account in our own preparedness and use of electricity.
Fingrid will update its estimate of the adequacy of electricity for the coming winter as the situational picture changes.
Further information: Tuomas Rauhala, SVP, Fingrid Oyj, tel. +358 40 506 4695
Updated on 30th of August 2022: the arrows in the picture are now pointing both ways representing the import and export of electricity.