Helsingin Energia is the first energy company in Finland to offer a demand response service for electricity to businesses and communities. Users of the service receive compensation for allowing the power to be cut from electric equipment of their choice in fault situations. This way, they act as a disturbance reserve for Finland’s power grid. A corresponding pilot project with households has also been launched.
In order that a balance between electricity generation and consumption is maintained also in fault situations, reserves are required, such as stand-by power plants that are switched on to generate electricity only in exceptional circumstances. Reserve electricity has been rarely needed, only a few times a year and only for periods of 5–15 minutes at a time. The total compensations for acting as reserve have amounted to several million euros a year.
Helsingin Energia’s own power plants already act as reserves. The new demand response service for disturbance reserve preparedness was developed in partnership with customers who use large volumes of electricity.
“Good collaboration with our customers has shown that the possibility of flexible power consumption can be commercialised and included as part of normal electricity supply,” says Ossi Porri, Development Manager at Helsingin Energia.
Reducing consumption has the same effect as increasing power production. Businesses and communities can now become part of the reserve market through Helsingin Energia’s demand response service. The service users receive reimbursement for acting as disturbance reserve.
“A large volume of rapidly flexible electricity load is valuable. The importance of flexible demand in the energy sector is constantly growing, and it is a significant part of a smart energy system,” Porri says.
Households included as disturbance reserve for first time
Helsingin Energia is the first in Finland to test the suitability of domestic electricity consumption as disturbance reserve for the national grid. The household pilot project comprises around ten electrically heated homes, and it will be implemented during the autumn 2014 and spring 2015 as a joint project of Helsingin Energia, There Corporation and Fingrid.
Development of the new feature is part of Helsingin Energia’s development work of domestic automation services. The current Termo service already permits exploitation of the most economical hourly electricity prices.
In the research project, the home electric heating is automatically turned off for a maximum period of 15 minutes. The flexibility of power usage is almost imperceptible to the customer, as the cut is brief.