Empower formulating a road map for flexible electricity markets

ons 10 sep 2014 12:41:53

It is possible to create energy market in Finland where use is intelligently controlled and consumers can sell electricity from their household solar panels or windmills. How can this be achieved? Empower is formulating a road map in connection with the Smart Power Grid Grid and Energy Markets Research Program, which will publish its final report in November.

Empower IM Oy has worked together with many industry experts and research institutes during the course of the research program, started by Cleen Oy in 2010, with the aim of finding out which conditions and technologies could create a smarter and more flexible electricity market in Finland. -The SGEM program has enabled operators and research institutes in the sector to model the future together. No one could do it alone, says Jan Segerstam, Development Manager. Empower IM has headed the program’s elasticity of demand component, which focuses on the technology requirements of flexible electricity markets.

-We have identified the technologies that will make it possible to distribute power grid investments more flexibly and intelligently while also making the grid more reliable. He reminds that due to new electricity market regulations, reliability demands have been tightened up considerably. -That is why Finland is now making major investments in the power grid. Thanks to the technologies identified in the research program, investments can be targeted better and fault repairs completed faster.

For consumers flexibility in electricity markets means a wider product offering.-“Electricity companies could offer consumers more than just price, even purchase services from the consumer. This could include remote control, production concepts or even selling temperature instead of electricity volume to heated destinations. It would also be possible to use these destinations as a part of the energy company's production palette without investing more in the grid. Furthermore, the consumer could easily function in the electricity market as active producers and sell electricity from his/her solar panels or windmill.

As a part of the research program, consumer behaviour and attitudes with regard to flexible electricity markets were studied. -Some test houses were built with the tenants able to affect energy use by means of an interface. Jan Segerstam believes that consumer markets with inbuilt flexibility incentives could be created if the control of already existing electricity meters would be extended to the free market on a large scale.  An excellent starting point would be electric heaters where the load has already been connected to a timer control. Technically these meters have the ability to control almost 600,000 heaters in Finland alone.

The final report of the Smart Power Grids and Energy Markets Research Program will be published in conjunction with the program’s concluding seminar in November. 

For more information:
Jan Segerstam, Development Manager, Empower IM Oy, tel. +358 (0)44 425 2218, jan.segerstam@empower.fi