There will be enough of electricity in Finland in the coming winter
Fingrid estimates that there will be enough electricity in Finland in the coming winter. The risk of an electricity shortage in Finland is low if the power system and electricity market are functioning normally. Finland remains dependent on imports at times of peak electricity consumption, so the generation and consumption volumes in neighbouring countries play an increasingly important role for Finland in addition to the availability of electricity generated in Finland. As a consequence, the sufficiency of electricity is analysed for the Baltic Sea region as a whole.
In Fingrid’s estimate, peak consumption in the coming winter could reach approximately 15,100 megawatts in Finland. There will be enough electricity if the power system and electricity market function normally. However, Fingrid states that an electricity shortage is a possibility if Finland undergoes a long period of extreme cold.
In the coming winter, electricity consumption is expected to be slightly lower than in the preceding years, as the volume of electricity consumed by the industrial and service sectors will be lower due to the coronavirus pandemic. The demand for electricity can be satisfied by Finnish generators and imports from neighbouring countries. However, the availability of imported electricity depends on the consumption of neighbouring countries and the functionality of cross-border transmission connections.
“According to our projections, the coming winter will be similar to previous years in terms of the sufficiency of electricity. A momentary scarcity of electricity can significantly increase wholesale prices, and the assumption is that industrial consumption would adjust. Finland is dependent on imports at times of peak electricity consumption, so the generation and consumption volumes in neighbouring countries play an increasingly important role for us in addition to the availability of electricity generated in Finland,” says Reima Päivinen, Senior Vice President at Fingrid.
“In terms of the sufficiency of electricity, the most significant changes are taking place in the structure of electricity generation. The availability of wind power throughout the Baltic Sea region is becoming increasingly important as fossil-fuelled power plants are being shut down,” continues Päivinen.
Figure: Estimate of electricity generation and consumption in the 2020–2021 winter season.
New analytical methods for estimating weather-dependent electricity generation
The electricity market guides the transmission of electricity across borders. For this reason, sufficiency should be analysed for the Baltic Sea region or even Europe as a whole.
The generation and consumption of electricity are increasingly dependent on the weather. The availability of hydroelectric power and the weather-dependence of electricity consumption have long been critical aspects of the functionality of the power system. The increase in the amount of wind and solar power will make electricity generation more dependent on the weather. The sufficiency of electricity is increasingly analysed using probability calculations that take weather phenomena into consideration. The key question is whether there will be enough electricity during consumption peaks if the electricity is generated using weather-dependent techniques. On the other hand, it should be noted that power systems involving weather-dependent energy generation may also suffer electricity shortages during hours that do not feature peak consumption.
ENTSO-E, the collaboration organisation for European transmission system operators, has published a report named “Winter Outlook 2020–2021”, in which the sufficiency of electricity is analysed on the basis of probabilities. The analysis takes into consideration the fluctuations in electricity consumption and generation due to the weather, as well as failures in power plants and transmission connections. According to the report, the risk of an electricity shortage in Finland in the coming winter is around two per cent without peak load reserves and only half a per cent if the calculation takes into consideration the peak load reserves, which offer an additional 611 megawatts.
The analysis based on probability calculations indicates that the power balance in the Baltic Sea region in winter 2020–2021 has become more strained in recent years. At times of peak consumption, the countries with an electricity deficit are Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Lithuania, in addition to Finland. Norway, Poland, Estonia and Latvia have an electricity generation surplus. Momentary consumption peaks in the Baltic Sea region are not expected to occur simultaneously, so the countries can support each other.
Reima Päivinen, Fingrid
tel. +358 30 395 5160 or +358 40 556 2662
Info box 1:
The previous winter (2019–2020) was unusually mild, and the sufficiency of electricity was never in question. The electricity consumption peak was the lowest for many years. The electricity consumption peak – 12,388 MWh – occurred on Monday 28 February 2020 between 8 am and 9 am. Domestic generation was then 9,849 MWh/h and net imports were 2,539 MWh/h. During the hour of peak consumption, Finland’s area price for electricity on the day-ahead market rose to EUR 46.98/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.
Link to ENTSO-E's appendix: Winter Outlook 2020-2021
Link to ENTSO-E's publication: The power balance in the Baltic Sea region in winter 2020–2021: