Fortum and Elenia’s battery pack for storing electricity as part of the smart grid development in Finland

Finland-based Fortum and Elenia Oy commissioned in Kuru, Pirkanmaa, a battery pack they have created together. In normal conditions it will function through Fortum as regulating power for Fingrid’s grid and in a power outage as backup power for Elenia’s customers.

Fingrid Oyj is a Finnish national electricity transmission grid operator. It is owned by the Finnish state and various financial and insurance institutions.

In the pilot project, Fortum and Elenia built a battery pack for storing electricity as part of the smart grid development. The battery pack serves the electricity network’s balancing needs and helps to keep lights on longer for customers during power outages.

In normal situations the battery pack works with thousands of household hot water heaters as part of Fortum’s virtual battery that offers electricity as regulating power to transmission system operator Fingrid’s reserve markets. Regulating power is electricity production that can respond quickly to fluctuations in electricity production and consumption.

Climate change requires new solutions for flexibility
Because of climate change and the energy transition, the demand for regulating power in Finland is estimated to grow as intermittent wind and solar energy’s share of electricity production increases. The electrification of society also increases the demand for regulating power. Fortum’s virtual battery is part of a smarter, flexible electricity network enabling the growth of renewable energy production in the energy markets.

Electricity storages are needed alongside the increases in renewable energy production forms that produce intermittently. Electricity production and consumption must be in balance at all times. With the battery pack we can bring to the markets very fast regulating power that can respond to rapid changes in production and consumption better than many traditional power plants,” says Ilari Alaperä, interim CEO from Fortum Spring.

Location of battery pack is critical as back-up in power outages
Optimized planning of the location of the battery pack brings other benefits too. Owned and operated by Fortum, the battery pack has been installed in Elenia’s network area in the Kuru region in Pirkanmaa. The battery pack has been connected to Elenia’s grid, and, in addition to the reserve markets, energy from the battery pack can be used to secure the supply of electricity to Elenia’s customers during a power outage. During a power outage, it can supply electricity to a limited area where the power can be kept on during the repair works. The battery pack can secure the electricity supply to more than one hundred customers for several hours.

“The battery pack allows us to keep the electricity service on for customers, even if a storm has damaged the grid in the region. The battery pack supplies electricity to customers while the damage is being repaired and thus creates a completely new dimension for handling power outages,” says Tommi Lähdeaho, Unit Manager, Asset Management, Elenia Oy. “The battery pack improves our ability to take care of reliable electricity distribution alongside the upgrading work to weather-proof the aging grid,” Lähdeaho continues.

Electricity storages are planned particularly in areas where the overhead power lines still have a useful life left and installing underground cabling is not an issue in the foreseeable future. “We have identified sites in our grid area where this kind of battery system would improve the reliability of electricity distribution and where the battery pack would provide the most benefit to customers. We will continue our development work to develop electricity distribution battery solutions,” says Lähdeaho from Elenia.

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