We are on the way to becoming a fully electric society. Inevitably, therefore, we will all use a lot of power at certain times in the day. This can be compared to the rush-hour traffic out of Oslo on a normal working day. The roads are frequently congested and traffic can sometimes grind to a complete halt. If demand for electricity is higher than the power grid can supply, the system will not work properly and could black out.
Up to now, we have solved this problem largely by reinforcing the transmission grid. However, this is extremely expensive. Fortum Spring offers a simpler and cheaper solution. The key is to even out the peaks and troughs in demand.
The technology behind Fortum Spring
Fortum is now making it possible for everyone with an energy storage system, such as a data centre, to share some of their electricity capacity when the grid is about to be overloaded and they are not using it themselves. The technology that makes this possible is Fortum Spring. It is like a virtual battery, where customers’ flexible consumption is collected together and can be used to offset fluctuations in the power grid’s load.
“This could help to generate great revenues for companies, create a more robust power grid and make it possible to build even more renewable energy facilities,” says Stefan Bergsten, Country Manager for Fortum Spring in Norway and Sweden.
DigiPlex – the first flexibility customer in Norway
Fortum recently signed a three-year deal with the data-centre developer and operator DigiPlex. DigiPlex has been operating in Norway for just over 20 years, and in Sweden for six years. These are the two countries in which Fortum Spring is being offered.
“At our data centres, we have reserve power stored in battery banks. When the power grid is under pressure, we can supply power from our batteries and relieve the load on the grid for brief periods to avoid power outages. The periods we are talking about last no more than 10–30 seconds. Our operations are not interrupted and when the grid has stabilised, we go back to drawing power from the transmission network and recharge our battery banks. Fortum Spring handles the technical side of things,” says Halvor Bjerke, COO at DigiPlex.
“It is important to exploit the opportunities available in the system to achieve as much stability as possible in the grid. We need these services if we are to succeed in creating a robust power grid. DigiPlex’s data centres are contributing to a durable system,” says Bergsten.
The renewable energy DigiPlex possesses will primarily be offered to the Fast Frequency Reserve (FFR) market. This is a reserve that is activated extremely rapidly to prevent drops in frequency below 49.7 Hz in the event of major power system failures.
Nordic transmission system operators, such as Statnett, Fingrid and Svenska kraftnät, have agreed to provide an FFR in national processes to safeguard stability in the Nordic power system. FFR is the fastest of the support services with batteries that are very well suited for this purpose. A number of data centres participate in the FFR market.
We are very proud of our collaboration
“We are very proud to have established a collaboration with one of the largest data-centre developers and operators in the Nordic region. It is particularly exciting that we will also be working with DigiPlex in several of our other areas of operation, such as electrical power portfolio management and trading in renewable energy,” says Daniel Lega, Business Manager at Fortum.
“We consider DigiPlex to be an extremely interesting and important customer. They are one of the largest data-centre suppliers in the Nordic region. Together with DigiPlex, we will now offer and sell the flexibility from their data centres to the Nordic transmission system operators Statnett in Norway and Svenska kraftnät in Sweden,” says Fortum Spring’s Stefan Bergsten.
DigiPlex already works with Fortum and Stockholm Exergi on the recovery of surplus energy from DigiPlex’s data centres in Oslo and Stockholm.
Since the very beginning, DigiPlex has been a pioneer in the field of sustainable data centres, and has understood that the benefits of the digital economy cannot be achieved at the environment’s expense.
“We are looking forward to going live with our latest collaboration, in which we will jointly contribute to a more robust power grid,” says DigiPlex COO Halvor Bjerke.