Smart Grid Pilot Project in Vaasa

Energy operators in the Vaasa region in western Finland – ABB, electric utility company Vaasan Sähkö, the ICT-sector company Anvia, and the University of Vaasa – will test and pilot the most recent smart grid technology in the village of Sundom in Vaasa. The goal of the globally unique smart grid pilot project is to make electricity delivery more reliable and to establish the preconditions for solar and wind power use in the region's households.

The project concerns the entire Sundom village center with population of 2500, including a new residential area being built.

In Sundom, the power network is becoming more urban. The network is a combination of underground cables and overhead line network. With this pilot ABB is testing the latest automatic fault management technology. One of the key features is earth fault management, which is needed as underground cables are gaining ground. A further goal is to build solutions that promote the use of renewable energy production, such as wind and solar power, in the area.

The comprehensive Anvia optical fiber network in Sundom makes it possible to transfer digital measurement data in real time. The data is collected at the Anvia data center, where it is available to all operators involved in the project. As a result, University of Vaasa has a unique opportunity to study the impact of underground cables and network automation, and their cost-effectiveness in the actual environment.  The goal is that consumers are provided with electricity in a reliable and optimally inexpensive way.

"The pilot project is an excellent demonstration of energy sector cooperation in the Vaasa region. There is a demand for smart network solutions in Finland and throughout Europe," says Dick Kronman, business development director at ABB.

The Sundom pilot scheme is based on upcoming amendments to the Electricity Market Act. According to the regulations, which will be phased in by 2028, the annual duration of outages shall not exceed six hours in urban planned areas. Outside the urban planned areas, the limit is 36 hours. In fact, the goal of Vaasan Sähkö is to find solutions to meet the delivery reliability criteria by also using other means than underground cables; increasing the volume of network automation and making it smarter, for example.

The most significant energy technology cluster in Scandinavia is located in the Vaasa region in Finland. It includes more than 140 companies with approximately 10,000 employees. The Vaasa region is responsible for about 30% of Finland's total energy technology exports.

This pilot is the first smart grid project within the Innovative Cities program. The program is funded by Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for innovation. The goal of the project is to enhance distribution reliability and efficiency and to enable sustainable energy solutions (wind and solar power).

Eero Lukin
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