Enough electricity last winter – mild weather and energy savings played a key role
A mild winter, good availability of imported electricity, reliable Finnish production, and a reduction in electricity consumption ensured the adequacy of electricity last winter. At the end of last summer, there were some concerns about the adequacy of electricity in Finland. But, ultimately, there were no issues, and the likelihood of an electricity shortage remained low throughout the winter.
Fingrid first warned of an elevated risk of electricity shortages in August 2022. We made preparations and communicated the possibility of power cuts in advance to improve our capacity to act in the event of an electricity shortage and identify ways of reducing the likelihood of electricity shortages.
“Finland was dependent on imported electricity for long periods during the winter consumption peaks, but the likelihood of an electricity shortage generally remained small. At the end of the summer, when we learned of the postponement of regular electricity production at the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant, we said that the substantial uncertainties surrounding Finnish production and imported electricity could combine with uncertainties about the winter weather to cause considerably greater challenges to the adequacy of electricity than ever before,” says Tuomas Rauhala, Senior Vice President, Power System Operations at Fingrid.
“In particular, if the uncertainties surrounding imports and production during longer periods of cold weather were to materialise, the likelihood of an electricity shortage would be significantly higher than in previous years. In practice, this would have meant an electricity shortage leading to rolling power cuts to ensure the functionality of the entire power system of Finland.”
Challenges for the adequacy of electricity in December
The most difficult periods in terms of the adequacy of electricity arrived in December but only lasted a day at a time. The first occurred in the third week of December when low temperatures coincided with maintenance outages at several large Nordic power plants. During that period, electricity savings in Finland were as much as 1,500 megawatts – an important contribution to ensure the adequacy of electricity. The reliable operation of production plants in Finland and the significant amounts of wind power produced on certain days also helped to ease the situation.
The second challenging time fell on 21 December when a cross-border connection between Sweden and Finland failed. Electricity savings, reliable Finnish production, alternative electricity imports from Estonia and the Baltic Sea region more broadly, and the swift repair of the faulty transmission line all played decisive roles in the situation. The value of national and international cooperation was clear.
Consumption peak not until March in a mild winter
Ultimately, the adequacy of electricity remained good throughout the winter, and the threats emerging in the summer did not come to pass. Primarily, the situation was eased by a mild winter, which ensured lower electricity consumption than in previous years. The winter consumption peak occurred in March, which is unusually late in the season, and the peak itself was the lowest this millennium. Finnish electricity production was also available as expected. The commercial operation of Olkiluoto 3 was delayed, but the plant nonetheless provided significant support for the adequacy of electricity during trial operation. The strong increase in wind power production also made a positive contribution.
The electricity import connections were largely reliable, and the availability of electricity from Sweden and Estonia was good, as a rainy autumn had boosted the levels of reservoirs, and Central Europe also had a mild winter. In Finland, electricity savings occasionally made a significant contribution to the adequacy of electricity. Reduced electricity consumption had a major effect on the high electricity price, but electricity savings in the winter were also good when the price was low.
In addition, forecasting and communication practices for electricity shortages were developed in the energy sector. Fingrid introduced a voluntary power system support model as a contingency for electricity shortages and secured more than 500 megawatts of flexibility and reserve power production. This equates to the output of one nuclear power plant unit.
“Extensive, constructive communication also played a very important role in the success of cooperation. A wide range of stakeholders took part, from the local and national media to individual electricity suppliers, users and producers,” Tuomas Rauhala emphasises.
“The past autumn and winter show that Finnish electricity users and producers have an admirable capacity to take responsibility for the public good – in this case, avoiding an electricity shortage. The actions taken in the autumn and winter kept the probability of an electricity shortage low throughout the winter. Moreover, we are now better prepared to tackle similar challenges in the future. Everyone in Finland has done a great job,” he says.
Tuomas Rauhala, Senior Vice President, Fingrid Oyj, tel. +358 40 506 4695
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