The risk of an electricity shortage has increased in the Nordic countries
The risk of an electricity shortage has increased in the Nordic countries during consumption peaks in the winter. Fingrid estimates that this coming winter, peak consumption and production capacity of electricity will be at almost the same level as the previous winter. Electricity is expected to be sufficient during cold sub-zero periods if the electricity system and the market operate normally and electricity is available from Sweden, in particular. The availability of wind power during demand peaks plays a key role in the sufficiency of electricity in the Nordic countries.
Electricity will be sufficient during the coldest sub-zero periods of the coming winter in Finland if the electricity system and electricity market operate normally. The expected electricity consumption can be covered through domestic electricity production and imported electricity from neighbouring countries, provided that electricity is available from neighbouring countries. The most significant change compared to previous years is the increased risk of an electricity shortage in the Nordic countries due to power plant closures. It has become more difficult to obtain imported electricity for the heavily import-dependent Finland during consumption peaks in the winter. The availability of wind power during demand peaks plays a key role in the sufficiency of electricity in the Nordic countries. In Nordic studies, the share of wind power during consumption peaks of the coldest sub-zero periods has been estimated to be 6–10% of the total wind power capacity.
In situations of peak consumption, almost all domestic electricity production and maximum imports enabled by transmission connections are needed to cover the electricity consumption. An electricity shortage is possible if the whole of Finland is hit by a severe and prolonged sub-zero cold spell. In that case, Fingrid estimates that, in a situation of peak consumption, electricity consumption in Finland will rise to approximately 15,300 MW and one-fifth of the electricity, approximately 3,400 MW, must be imported from abroad. The commissioning of Olkiluoto 3 in the summer of 2020 will significantly reduce the risk of an electricity shortage in the future. Nevertheless, Finland will continue to be dependent on imported electricity.
The situation has become more strained in the Nordic countries
Power plants have been shut down in Sweden, which has contributed to the increased risk of an electricity shortage in the Nordic countries compared to previous winters. In the event of peak consumption, electricity must be imported to the Nordic countries at up to 4,900 MW. Electricity can be imported mainly from Central Europe.
“On the international electricity market, the market mechanism effectively controls the movement of electricity and electricity is transported to where it is most needed. When demand increases sharply, prices rise and industrial consumption, in particular, is likely to decline, reducing the risk of an electricity shortage. The amount of wind power has increased in the Nordic countries, and thus the availability of wind power during demand peaks is of key importance”, says Reima Päivinen, Senior Vice President at Fingrid.
Reima Päivinen, Senior Vice President, Fingrid, tel. +358 30 395 5160 or +358 40 556 2662
Info box 1:
The sufficiency of electricity was not at risk during the previous winter 2018–2019. The peak of electricity consumption took place on the morning of 28 January. The peak of electricity consumption, 14,542 MWh/h, occurred on Monday 28 January 2019 between 8 and 9 am. Domestic production was then 10,978 MWh/h and net import 3,564 MWh/h. During the hour of peak consumption, Finland’s area price for electricity on the day-ahead market was EUR 70.05/MWh.
Finland’s all-time electricity consumption record, 15,105 MWh/h, was measured in January 2016. At the time, the corresponding temperature was -25°C.
Info box 2:
An electricity shortage means that production and import are not enough to cover consumption, so consumption has to be momentarily restricted. In public, the terms power or electricity shortage are used interchangeably.
Together with local distribution system operators, Fingrid has prepared for a situation in which the sufficiency of electricity in Finland would be under threat. An electricity shortage is a manageable situation in which electricity consumption has to be restricted. Restrictions on electricity consumption would most likely momentarily apply to a small minority of electricity consumers. For the household consumer, an electricity shortage would mean a power outage lasting no more than a few hours. Electricity supply for functions important to society can also be secured in the event of an electricity shortage.
Info box 3:
You can monitor the state of Finland’s electricity system almost in real time at https://www.fingrid.fi/online/
The map showing the state of the electricity system is updated every three minutes. The website provides information on electricity consumption and production in Finland, the power balance and the price of electricity in Finland.