Information about potential electricity shortages
There are currently a lot of questions being raised about energy and the adequacy thereof in the coming winter. The National Emergency Supply Agency (NESA) is actively monitoring the adequacy of the power supply together with other authorities. Power failures are also being actively monitored and preparations have been made for disruptions. On this page, the NESA has compiled questions and answers about potential electricity shortages, which will be updated as necessary.
What is an electricity shortage?
Electricity must be constantly generated and consumed in equal amounts. An electricity shortage occurs when the demand for electricity exceeds the amount of electricity being generated and imported. In the event of an electricity shortage, the last resort to maintain the balance of the electricity system is to engineer a series of controlled and planned power outages, or rolling blackouts. If carried out, these blackouts would last for approximately two hours at a time and be cycled between customers. The aim of controlled rolling blackouts is to avoid potential long-term blackouts of Finland’s entire electrical grid. An electricity shortage may also be recurring.
Who is affected by an electricity shortage?
The aim is to avoid cutting electricity supply to consumers for as long as possible and to cut electricity to consumers only as a last resort, after all other solutions have been exhausted. Two-hour rolling blackouts may have to be carried out more than once in the same area, but there will always be several hours between two blackouts.
Why are planned power outages the last resort?
If the entire Finnish electricity system were to fail, restoring power would take at least several hours, during which time society as a whole would have to do without electricity. Short rolling blackouts are the last possible solution for avoiding such a situation.
When may Finland face an electricity shortage?
Electricity shortages may arise in several ways. The possibility of electricity shortages increases in winter if the temperature in Finland falls extremely low for long periods, if there is no wind and if disruptions occur in electricity production or transfer. Such disruptions can include power plant or power transmission connection failures, for example. Electricity shortages are most likely to occur during the highest consumption peaks. The demand for electricity is usually greatest in the mornings and evenings.
Who will announce an electricity shortage?
If the risk of an electricity shortage arises, it will be widely announced and communicated. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment will publish a press release when Finland’s transmission system operator Fingrid reports that the situation is becoming critical. The shortage and related operating instructions will also be reported on by Fingrid, local electricity network companies and the media. There are plans in place for electricity shortages and procedures during a shortage have been practiced, so every effort would be made to announce shortages in advance. However, if an electricity shortage were to arise unexpectedly due to a disruption, for example, it might not be possible to announce it in advance.
How will power outages occur in practice?
Finland’s transmission system operator Fingrid will inform local electricity network companies about the amount of power to be disconnected from the network. After this, the local electricity network companies will implement the required shutdowns in the form of rolling blackouts. The length of an individual blackout will be approximately two hours. Rolling blackouts may have to be carried out more than once in the same area, but there will always be several hours between two blackouts.
What should households take into account?
The demand for electricity is usually greatest during weekday mornings and evenings. If the possibility of an electricity shortage is announced in advance, it is important to reduce electricity consumption during these times. Every household should always be prepared for short power outages caused by reasons other than electricity shortages, such as trees falling on power lines during storms or equipment malfunctions.
How will an electricity shortage end?
An electricity shortage will end when electricity production and imports are once again enough to meet the demand for electricity. The end of an electricity shortage will be announced by Finland’s transmission system operator Fingrid. An electricity shortage may also repeat, in which case Fingrid will carry out the related procedures again.
How is critical infrastructure protected during an electricity shortage?
Critical infrastructure, such as hospitals, are excluded from rolling blackouts. The aim is to avoid cutting electricity supply to consumers for as long as possible and to cut electricity to consumers only as a last resort, after all other solutions have been exhausted. However, it is possible that some critical electricity consumers may have to be subjected to outages, as rolling blackouts will have to be carried out in large groups, meaning that it will not be possible to individually choose which properties are affected. Furthermore, if the duration of the electricity shortage is long or the amount of power that needs to be freed up is high, it may become necessary to expand the number of customers affected by rolling blackouts.
In Finland, some critical infrastructure operators are prepared for outages with their own backup power generators that will start up if the supply of electricity is cut off.