The power grid is not scaled to tackle the huge future energy and power needs, and it is very costly to reinvest new power grids. Scientists, businesses and power producers have therefore joined forces to find a solution, and the test area is the island of Senja.
“Our goal is to meet the specific energy demand Senja is experiencing by virtue of its innovative and rapidly expanding seafood industry. However, we also have the ambition to develop technology that can contribute to solving the challenges we face both locally, nationally and globally. Senja is our trial area, but electrification challenges are global. Here there are huge market opportunities,” says Trond Are Bjørnvold, head of department for projects and engineering with Troms Kraft Nett.
Strong growth in the seafood industry
Senja is currently experiencing major energy challenges. The seafood industry has seen strong growth and has established advanced process plants with great power needs and high demands to voltage quality. The tourism industry is also undergoing rapid development, and a new hotel is being planned, among other things. Demand for electricity in homes has also seen a significant increase. Although the power grid has been modernised in recent years, developments have led to the power grid approaching capacity at a steady rate.
The traditional approach to this type of challenge is to invest in larger grid facilities. This is both time-consuming and costly for the utility. Through Smart Senja, the consortium headed by Troms Kraft Nett wants to demonstrate how such challenges may be resolved locally using new types of flexible energy resources.
Smart Senja has set five key targets that will contribute to resolving the energy crisis:
Exploit the flexibility of the consumers by actively controlling loads. Examples of power that can be regulated are cooling plants in industry or water heaters in households.
Install large energy storage/batteries in the grid, that can be charged when there is free capacity and provide power to the grid as needed.
Establish new, renewable power locally in the shape of solar power plants.
Develop smart control systems, that provide good forecasts for production, consumption and voltage quality.
Establish a local marketplace for trading flexible energy resources and loads.
Developing new IT solutions
The software company Powel is an important contributor in the project. It will develop an IT solution that will help the utility make the right choices with regards to how to exploit the flexibility in the energy system in the best possible manner.
“Our tools provide the grid company with good forecasts for how power consumption, the power grid’s condition, and delivery ability will develop ahead in time. Thus the utility can make better decisions and risk assessments, and not least exploit the flexible energy resources they have available in a better manner,” says Powel’s project manager, Simen Karlsen.
The local energy system that will be developed on Senja can also be used in other places. By making flexible energy resources accessible in grid operations, the system becomes less vulnerable. It will also give utilities all over the world a new tool for managing the power system, which in turn may lead to postponement and avoidance of major investments in the grid.
“The most important thing about the project is that the technology and know-how that is developed in this partnership, also can be used and shared nationally and globally. Interest in the project is huge. We have great faith in succeeding and that this will be a new chapter in the history of the power industry in Norway. The first hydroelectric power plant in Norway was developed on Senja. Now new energy history is being created, which can contribute to change society in a positive and sustainable direction,” Trond Are Bjørnvold concludes.