The Solution

A safe, reliable, economical and sustainable system

Flexens has identified the opportunity to develop and build a full society scale energy system based on renewables on Åland – an island archipelago with ideal wind and solar conditions, an ambitious climate- and energy strategy as well as a population dedicated to sustainability.

Creating the smart renewable energy system of the future is a process of innovating, learning and adapting for all stakeholders. The benefit of demonstrating the system on a full society scale is that the results are directly scalable to other societies.

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.