Fortum has launched a pilot project in which a pioneering virtual power plant
based on demand flexibility will be built together with customers. Fortum will
build an over 100-kilowatt virtual power plant from an aggregated network of
roughly 70 water heaters located in single family homes. The capacity of this
power plant will be offered to the Finnish national grid company Fingrid to
maintain a continuous power balance in the electricity system.
It is Finland’s first – and probably Europe’s first – project in which
households are together participating to maintain the power balance, and in
which the capacity is offered to the national grid company. Similar projects
have previously been done with industry’s electricity loads.
“Our virtual power plant pilot based on water heaters doesn’t produce
electricity, but it momentarily stops using a certain amount of electricity.
This capacity can be used to balance the electricity system in the same way as
the output produced by a power plant. For the purpose of balancing, it doesn’t
matter if more electricity is produced or if less is consumed,” Janne Happonen,
Development Manager at Fortum, explains the basic idea of the pilot project.
“The more intermittent wind and solar energy is included in our energy system,
the bigger is the need for regulating power to balance the electricity network.
That is why we need new kinds of control and storage solutions to balance
electricity production and consumption. Digitalisation makes it possible for
also households – especially those using electric heating – to have an
important role in balancing the electricity network,” says Heli Antila, Chief
Technology Officer at Fortum.
The pilot project started by Fortum is also a solid step towards the smart city
model in which households and the energy solutions they use create a new player
for the electricity markets. Operating together, households can reduce demand
by controlling electric loads or generate supply by, for example,
simultaneously discharging battery capacity. In both cases, from the
electricity network perspective, it is regulating power, which on a large scale
can balance the electricity network’s operations and reduce the need for fossil
fuel-fired peak capacity plants.
In Fortum’s pilot, virtual power plant is based on remote control of the water
heater. When more power is required in the system, Fortum momentarily takes
over control of the water heater without any impact on the heating of the home
or on the hot tap water. The customers participating in the pilot project will
be provided with a mobile energy monitoring application that enables real-time
monitoring of their household’s electricity consumption. Increased information
on electricity consumption helps customers to pay more attention to their own
consumption habits and often also reduces consumption.
Janne Happonen, Development Manager, Fortum, tel. +358 10 452 0850
Heli Antila, Chief Technology Officer, Fortum, tel. +358 40 571 7188
Fortum’s vision is to be the forerunner in clean energy. We provide our
customers with electricity, heat and cooling as well as other energy solutions
that improve present and future life. Already 64% of our electricity generation
is CO2 free. Our main markets are the Nordic and the Baltic countries, Russia,
Poland and India. In 2015, we employed some 8,000 energy sector professionals,
and our sales were EUR 3.5 billion. Fortum’s share is listed on Nasdaq