High risk of electricity shortage during cold winter days – Rapid transition to a green electricity system challenges power adequacy
The weakened conditions of the electricity market will be put to the test in the coming cold days of winter, as traditional forms of power production have dwindled further and renewable forms of energy generation are not sufficient to bridge the gap. Although electricity market disturbances and the risk of an electricity shortage have been identified in the energy-policy debate, differences of opinion exist in terms of how to resolve these problems. Transmission system operator Fingrid is also waiting to hear solutions proposed in the Finnish Government’s forthcoming Energy and Climate Strategy.
In Fingrid’s estimation, there is still a very high risk of a power shortage in Finland if the temperature drops well below zero, as it did in January 2016, for an extended period. Electricity transmission from neighbouring countries and domestic power generation are sufficient to cover consumption on a cold winter’s day, but there is no room for a failure in transmission connections or power plants. The closures of condensing power plants in Finland are partly contributing to the increasingly strained situation.
Fingrid estimates that the need for electricity imports on a freezing day this winter will rise to the 3,500 megawatt level. This means that one fifth of the estimated peak consumption of 15,100 megawatts will have to be imported from abroad. More imports will be needed than the combined production of all of Finland’s nuclear power plants. The situation will remain the same over the next few years, and even once Olkiluoto 3 is commissioned, Finland’s dependency on imports will not disappear completely.
“At Fingrid, we make sure that in power shortage situations, the system retains its security of supply. In challenging situations, however, it might be necessary to impose brief limitations on certain customers’ electricity consumption,” CEO Jukka Ruusunen said today at Fingrid’s Electricity Network Day.
A power shortage caused by the momentary insufficiency of continuous electrical power is a manageable situation for which Fingrid is prepared, in co-operation with local distribution network operators. Electricity consumption limits would most likely affect a small proportion of electricity consumers temporarily, at most for a few hours. The supply of electricity for functions that are vital for society can be maintained also during power shortages.
Towards green electricity in a controlled manner
According to CEO Ruusunen, switching to a green electricity system is necessary to stop climate change, but the transition must take place in a controlled manner to ensure continued system security.
“Crucial factors to consider are how we will make it through the transition period and how quickly we will be able to make use of smart technology that is still under development. We all have the same goal – clean energy. Before we can talk about a green energy revolution, however, we have roughly a decade of technical developments to catch up on. It is also important to retain a market-based and disturbance-free electricity supply that enables reasonable pricing,” Ruusunen commented.
Fingrid has brought its own position to the energy-policy debate and in May published a discussion paper on the challenges faced by the electricity markets and possible solutions to them. Today, 23rd November 2016, a summary has been drawn up based on the feedback received on the discussion paper and Fingrid’s conclusions. The summary outlines the path to a market-based green electricity system.
“In our vision of the future, the consumer takes centre stage, price guides the electricity system and there is sufficient electricity at every moment. To reach that goal, however, we also need the help of political decision-makers, and not just in Finland; other Nordic countries must also have their sights set on a market-based electricity system,” says Ruusunen.
The latest energy issues at a seminar and webcast on 23rd November, starting at 1 pm
Fingrid is hosting an Electricity Network Day 2016 seminar today at Messukeskus. Representing customers, a speech will be given by Timo Jutila, Managing Director of Caruna Oy. Fingrid will comment on, among other things, feedback received and measures to be implemented. The audience will also hear about the system security of cross-border transmission connections.
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 (power system operation)
Asta Sihvonen-Punkka, Senior Vice President, tel. +358 30 395 5235 or +358 50 573 9053 (electricity markets)
Fingrid’s forecast of winter electricity consumption, generation and imports in a peak consumption situation.