Finland faces power crunch as CHP units approach retirement

Date: 30 January 2018

Finland is facing a challenge, as a combination of factors, including ageing combined heat and power plants (CHP), combine to threaten its power supplies.

The country imports 23.9 per cent of its power and around one third comes from its CHP plants, many of which are approaching end of life in the coming years.

A dispute with its Scandinavian neighbours and increase in demand have compounded the country’s energy problems.

Finnish firms risk having to cut their power usage as the country’s growing energy demands outstrip supply, industry lobby group Finnish Energy (ET) told Reuters.

Demand for energy grew by 1.7 percent last year, while net power imports hit a record high.

Reliability of power supply is crucial to Finnish industry, which includes large power consumers such as pulp and paper makers UPM and Stora Enso.

Finland is now home to a growing, power-hungry data centre industry, and hopes to convince more Silicon Valley giants to build facilities in the country.

“It’s a concern for us… The balance is so tight that practically any major technical issue can cause a lack of power. There is a higher risk that we might need to reduce consumption for some consumers,” ET director Jukka Leskela said.

ET attributed the shortfall to its neighbours’ increasingly competitive prices, closure of some peak load power units, known as condensing plants, and to TVO’s much-delayed Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor, which has yet to begin production.

“There has been a lot of cheap electricity available… Part of the Finnish production has not been competitive enough in the market,” Leskela added.

The dispute with neighbours arose over a new system to balance the region’s electricity supply and demand. The Danish, Norwegian and Swedish grid operators decided to push ahead with plans for a new power balancing system without Finland in December after talks broke down.

Source: Decentralised Energy