Electricity consumption nears record as cold snap hits southern Finland

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Temperatures could drop to -20 degrees Celsius or colder across mainland Finland.

Image: Esko Jämsä / PDO

Electricity consumption is expected to hit near record levels Thursday evening and Friday morning as the densely populated southern Finland entered the frost.

Last winter was mild, now with significant peaks in electricity consumption, and so have several previous winters. On Thursday, transmission network operator Fingrid predicted strong demand for electricity consumption until at least Friday.

In extremely cold weather, consumption sometimes exceeds 15,000 megawatts per hour, but now such a high level is expected this time, according to Reima Päivinen, Senior Vice President of Fingrid for Electricity Grid Operations.

“The previous record for electricity consumption was set in 2016, when it reached around 15,100 megawatts,” he told Yle.

Fingrid predicted that electricity use would hit around 14,000 megawatts on Thursday night and 14,200 megawatts on Friday.

Wind power plays a bigger role – but can be fickle

As Finland has phased out coal-fired power plants in recent years, it increasingly depends on imported electricity to cover these surges – if fluctuating wind power is not available at the right time.

On average, wind turbines produce more energy during the winter, but power naturally depends on the breeze.

“If wind power is not available, Finland is heavily dependent on imports. If consumption is around 15,000 megawatts, we need to import around 20 to 25% of our electricity from neighboring countries: Sweden, Estonia and Russia, ”Päivinen explained. Finland and Sweden lead the EU for the share of energy obtained from renewable sources.

During the blizzard that hit southern and western Finland earlier this week, the wind turbines produced a record power of more than 2,000 megawatts per hour, according to Jari Kostama, Director of energy production at the Finnish Energy trade association. The storm also cut power to tens of thousands of homes.

On Friday, however, wind power production is expected to be less than a tenth of this week’s peak level.

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