Finland Prepares For Rolling Blackouts This Winter

Finland is bracing for potential power outages this winter in case of shortfalls in the supply of electricity, according to a Tuesday statement from the Finnish grid operator, as Europe faces an energy crunch in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine which led to the gas supply from Russia being severely reduced.

In May, Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom stopped all gas deliveries to Finland, making it the third European Union member state to have their Russian pipeline supply cut off after Poland and Bulgaria. The Russian supply to Finland was halted just days after the European country, along with its Scandinavian neighbor Sweden, formally applied to join NATO in the midst of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia had previously warned both Finland — which sits on the border of Russia to the west — and Sweden against applying to become NATO members.

Finland receives up to 70% of the gas it uses from Russia, though gas does not make up a large share of the overall energy mix, accounting for just 5% of total energy consumption.

“The war in Europe and the exceptional situation on the energy market have increased uncertainties related to the availability of electricity,” said Finnish grid operator, Fingrid. “As a result of the great uncertainties, Finns should be prepared for power outages caused by possible electricity shortages this coming winter.”

Fingrid also asserted that the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant would be able to compensate for the loss of Russian imports.

“In practice, in the event of an electricity shortage, Fingrid will inform the local distribution network companies of the total amount of power to be disconnected from each distribution network company’s area, and after this, power outages will be recycled as two-hour outages until the electricity shortage has ended,” said Tuomas Rauhala, Fingrid’s Senior Vice President of Power System Operation.

Norway is also facing problems and is considering limiting its energy exports, should levels at hydropower generation reservoirs drop to critically low levels, in an attempt to prevent power shortages and further increases in domestic energy bills.

Last week, other Nordic grid operators — including Fingrid, Svenska Kraftnät of Sweden and Energinet of Denmark — asked Norway to reconsider its plans to limit exports.

“If export restrictions were to be allowed under the current European electricity regulation, we fear that such a step could inspire other countries to consider similar restrictions and thus causing a much bigger negative effect on both the Nordic and the European electricity markets,” the operators argued.

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