Smart Energy Åland

A society scale demo of an energy system running on renewables

The energy transition requires a place where to pilot and demonstrate a fully renewable energy system which is sustainable both technically and economically. Flexens has identified the opportunity to develop and build a full society scale energy system based on renewables on Åland – an island with ideal wind and solar conditions, an ambitious climate- and energy strategy as well as a population dedicated to sustainability.

The area will become a unique place for companies to test new energy solutions, and it will also act as a reference for the Finnish export industry. In addition, it can provide a unique piloting platform attracting international investments, operators and technology providers.

Smart Energy Åland is a a public – private – people partnership.

The ecosystem

A demo created through a collaborative effort

For each subsystem in the demo a working group of companies, universities and public sector agencies have collaborated to review the available and future technologies. Investment plans for each subsystem are in preparation.

Flexens will be managing the interdependencies between subsystems – the renewables integration challenge.
To create a cost efficient energy system the integration must comprise all major subsystems – electricity, heating/cooling and transportation. Key elements in the system are the ability to integrate decentralised production of renewable energy and to control simultaneous fluctuations in demand and production. It is also important to allow consumers to operate actively as part of the system.

Solar

The Åland Islands have an ongoing roll-out of solar installations on both private houses and commercial buildings, supported by a government subsidy. Currently the installed capacity is minor, but the interest among inhabitants is rising.

Wind

Åland has been a pioneer in wind power since 1994. Currently the installed capacity is 21 MW, and the wind parks generate roughly 20% of the annual electricity consumption, sometimes momentarily over the local need. New larger parks are in the planning stage.

Heat and CHP

There are three district heating networks on the island. Biobased fuels are in wide use.

E-Storage

A review of the future storage capacity needs is ongoing. Currently the cable connections to Sweden and Finland serves as “virtual batteries”.

Demand Response

Åland has completed a roll-out smart meters and advanced communication capabilities, forming a solid foundation for piloting novel demand response technologies.

Renewable Transportation

Roll-out of charging stations for EV’s, supported by the local government is ongoing. Plans for use of electric buses, as well as electric ferries between the islands in the archipelago are well advanced.

Smart Grid and ICT

Necessary investments in new grid automation and other IT based platforms will follow on the back of increased renewables production capacity. Simulations are in progress.

Regulation and Market Mechanisms

With its autonomy, Åland has wide ranging legislative powers, and therefore the functioning of innovative market concepts can be tested. Especially incentivising the citizens and business energy consumers to participate in the flexibility of the energy system will be demonstrated. This requires demonstration of a new flexibility market model. This extensive citizen engagement in the whole project is also an essential part of the demonstration.

The unique features of the demo

Full society scale

The demo is operating in a deregulated environment connected to the efficient Nordpool market. All results are applicable to large markets.

Adopting future EU regulation

Current and future market models enabling investments in flexibility sources in focus.

Location in the tempered climate zone

Heating and cooling is a central part of the energy mix.

A platform supporting open innovation

Cooperation with leading R&D&I operator.

Smart Energy Åland – key goals and priorities

  • To demonstrate a society based on 100% renewable electricity Flexens will work actively to promote further investments in renewable generation capacity and decarbonising the heating and transportation systems. The basis for successful renewables integration in an open and competitive market is a flexibility trading platform – this demo will be high on the agenda.
  • The success of the demo will depend on citizen engagement and promotion of the prosumer concept. Cost efficiency and affordability of the implemented technologies is in focus.
  • The demo will include technology piloting with  focus on storage technologies and new digital services.
  • The demo is also a platform to develop new business ventures.