5G and IoT enable energy demand balancing for Fortum in Finland

Ericsson in Finland and the country’s leading energy company, Fortum, have signed a contract to bring the power protection systems and related batteries from Ericsson’s datacenter in Kirkkonummi to help efficiently use energy supplies.

Green energy has been a hot topic during recent years. To reduce CO2 emissions, consumers and utilities increasingly use renewable power sources, such as solar, wind, and biomass. But utilities face the challenge of maintaining stability of supply from weather-dependent and diverse generation sources. The need for renewable energy, smart demand management and advances in energy efficiency has led to that energy systems are undergoing a major change globally.

To fully use green energy, the peak times of energy consumption need to be smoothened out so that energy supply and demand is more balanced. This is one of the reasons why Ericsson in Finland and the country’s leading energy company Fortum have signed a contract to bring the power protection systems and related batteries of Ericsson’s datacenter in Kirkkonummi in Finland to balancing markets.

Balanced energy supply and demand can be accomplished by using Ericsson’s data center batteries. In other words, Ericsson’s datacenter becomes a “virtual powerplant” that Fortum can offer to Fingrid’s (Finland’s transmission system operator) grid. In addition, by using both cellular IoT and 5G technology developed by Ericsson in the reliable, real-time data communications, the utilities can maintain balanced supply in the grid. In that way, society and consumers can utilize renewable energy to the fullest. 

The idea is that in times of peak energy consumption, Fortum switches off energy supply for the datacenter for a very short period of time. This levels off the peak and enables stabilization of the energy grid and keeps the frequency to the set limits.

Ericsson is the first corporate client to join the already up and running Fortum Spring program including more than 1,000 Finnish households.

Ilari Alaperä, Business Development Manager, Spring by Fortum, says: “The energy and ICT industries are both facing unprecedented changes in the near future. In collaboration with Ericsson, we have an excellent opportunity to showcase the synergies between these two industries and in addition create financial benefits to our customer.”

Balancing the energy supply and demand in the grid is becoming crucial for utilities as digital interfaces to the networks are opened to enable smart metering and interactions with new sector actors, such as solar and wind farm operators.

Olli Sirkka, Head of Ericsson Finland, says: ”5G opens enormous new opportunity for energy producers enabling new energy sources and virtual power plants to be connected, thanks to low latency and high reliability of the technology. Our global challenge is to reduce CO2 emissions and with this project together with Fortum we are setting a leading example to the rest of the world how CO2 saving can be made a reality with technology already today.”

The pilot has already started and the system is expected to be up-and-running shortly. We are expecting first results in the first quarter of 2018.