Hans Imboden, Senior Manager
Finland built a record amount of wind power in 2022. New capacity of 2.4 gigawatts was completed, which puts Finland in the top three of Europe's most dynamic wind power builders, right on the heels of Germany and Sweden1. What prompted the record investment? The answer is simple.
"Onshore wind is currently the most economical way to generate electricity in Finland and Hitachi Energy significantly contributes to it with more than half of the generated wind power flowing through our transformers and grid connection solutions" says Matti Vaattovaara, Country Managing Director Finland at Hitachi Energy.
The Finnish domestic demand for clean energy has soared. This is underlined, for example, by the record number of inquiries received by the Finnish grid operator Fingrid for renewable electricity generation: Fingrid has 200,000 megawatts of inquiries to connect wind farms to the grid. This high figure in the amount of ongoing development illustrates the huge potential of wind, far exceeding Finland’s current peak demand (15,000 MW), providing a strong basis for the electrification of the whole energy system along with strong growth in electrical demand.
In sparsely populated Finland, the conditions for building wind power are good. In 2022, around 14 percent of Finland's electricity was generated by wind power2. This is still slightly below the European average. At the same time, industry and transport sectors are rapidly electrifying, and efforts are being made to move quickly away from fossils in energy production. News of new industrial projects using clean electricity is almost a weekly occurrence: hydrogen production, e-fuels, green steel and data centers.
"Hitachi Energy significantly contributes to sustainable energy production in Finland with more than half of the generated wind power flowing through our transformers and grid connection solutions."
Fingrid predicts that electricity consumption in Finland will double within a decade3. Doubling electricity consumption also means growth for Hitachi Energy, the market leader in grid connection solutions and transformers, connecting wind power generation to the national network.
“In Europe, we are fully committed with our extensive footprint of transformers manufacturing and service sites in 10 countries across Europe to support our customers making the energy transition happen” outlines Norbert Beatrix, Europe Hub Manager, Transformers Business at Hitachi Energy.
Moreover, Hitachi Energy provides comprehensive and state-of-the art grid connection solutions for transmission and distribution system operators and for connecting wind generation and industries to the grid. Our solutions offer the highest level of reliability, compactness, and eco-efficiency. Grid-eXpandTM is Hitachi Energy’s range of modular and prefabricated grid connections that make it faster, simpler, and more efficient to expand power grid capacity and accelerate the transition to a more sustainable energy system. Site installation is up to 40 percent faster, the footprint up to 60 percent smaller and civil work costs up to 70 percent lower than for conventionally built grid connections. Hitachi Energy's Grid-eXpand solution with power transformers will connect the Mutkalampi wind farm to the grid. With a total capacity of 404 megawatts, Mutkalampi is the largest wind farm in Finland.
For Mutkalampi, the customers chose a Grid-eXpand variant with modular electric housing, which is widely used in Finland and many other countries. The modules contain medium-voltage equipment, control and protection, and auxiliaries. They are prefabricated and preassembled locally by Hitachi Energy before delivery and take just one or two hours to install on-site, compared to 2-3 months for a conventional solution.
Hitachi Energy also offers a range of monitoring, operation and maintenance services. "We focus on using real-time data so that maintenance is done in the most effective way and carried out when needed", says Norbert Beatrix. “For example, power transformers have a life cycle of up to 40 years. Transformer failures are rare, but at worst they could interrupt the wind farm’s energy production. Hitachi Energy's TXpert™ HUB collects data from sensors, watches interdependencies, and trends their evolution. It acts as the secure firewall for communication going up from or down to the transformer, allowing safe remote transformer monitoring.”
A promising growth in green electricity supply
The Finnish Wind Energy Association estimates that, in Finland, wind power construction will continue to grow strongly in the coming years but that it will not quite reach the record level of 2022 in the next three years. Even so, new wind power in Finland is forecasted to reach 1,500 MW per year. On windy days, this means the equivalent of the capacity of a nuclear power plant (such as Olkiluoto 3 in Finland) that new electricity is fed to the grid. In the published Renewable Energy Market report (June 2023), IEA exposes that the forecast for new renewable capacity in Europe has been revised upward, reflecting a 40 percent increase compared to 2022.4
“Offshore wind power is a rapidly growing and promising renewable energy source in Europe and key to making Europe climate neutral by 2050.” comments Johan Söderström, Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Hitachi Energy. An ambitious offshore wind project is about to be launched off the Dutch and German coasts, where six offshore wind farms with a capacity of 2GW are planned. The offshore wind farms will transmit their power to a converter station on the coast in direct current. In March 2023, Hitachi Energy has secured a landmark offshore wind agreement with TenneT for these transmission links. Hitachi Energy is a technology pioneer and market leader in high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission. The project will include Hitachi’s Energy HVDC Light® transformers.
“European energy markets are expected to enter a super cycle due to the investments needed to achieve the green energy transition. As the Europe energy transition accelerates in scale and with speed, we need to shift from projects to programs to secure the needed capacity, while closely collaborating with customers and strengthening partnership, where the TenneT framework agreement is a great example. Not only is it important to ramp up capacity, but it is also important to attract talented people - the next generation of talents who is passionate about advancing a sustainable energy future for all.”, concludes Johan Söderström.
Transformers solutions for offshore applications
Meanwhile, on the Finnish coast, transmission distances are shorter, building offshore wind farms using AC technology is common. This is also an area where Hitachi Energy's expertise and solutions are world-class. Hitachi Energy's WindSTAR™ transformers are specifically designed for large offshore wind turbines.
"When you are at sea, the conditions are demanding; there are vibrations and saltiness. We tailor these special transformers to the needs of each turbine supplier" explains Norbert Beatrix.
For offshore grid connections, Hitachi Energy’s most recent design, CompactStar™ is a good solution. It is a compact, lightweight transformer optimized for the total ownership cost (TCO). Its innovative design and premium materials enhance thermal performance, making it a smart investment for customers looking to reduce TCO and improve operational efficiency. It's up to 30 percent smaller and lighter than traditional transformers, making it ideal for tight spaces, like offshore platforms.
“The production of green hydrogen from wind power is also gaining ground. In future, the combination of the production of green hydrogen by utilizing wind power offers additional potential to store energy. Large-scale offshore wind farms are a good match as both benefit from each other. In high winds, electricity can be stored as hydrogen, further improving the profitability of wind power generation.” concludes Norbert Beatrix, commenting on the near future challenges and opportunities for the industry.