Kemijoki Oy’s new pumped storage hydropower plants are the key to a safe energy transition

Kemijoki Oy is exploring the possibility of building pumped storage hydropower plants in Northern Finland. Adding new hydropower production to Kemijoki Oy’s existing production system drives the energy transition in Finland and enhances energy security.

The energy sector is in the middle of rapid change with pressure to abandon the use of fossil fuels quickly to mitigate climate change. The growth of wind and solar energy is transforming Finland’s energy system, and the electrification of society and future industrial investments ramp up demand for electricity. The increase in variable generation adds to the need for large-scale electricity storage and more regulating power to balance the electricity system.

Power consumption and generation peaks are largely balanced by hydropower. It has a unique ability to balance the differences in energy consumption and production between seasons, weeks, days, and minutes.

“Kemijoki Oy has a lot of potential to produce more hydropower. We can and should build more hydropower to ensure that Finland has enough low-emission and flexible power generation as well large-scale electricity storage capacity. We are looking at different possibilities to build more hydropower as part of our company’s existing structure,” says Kemijoki Oy’s CEO Tuomas Timonen.

Kemijoki Oy can significantly boost its hydropower production capacity. “There are plans for several 200–600 megawatt pumped storage plants to be built in the Kemijoki water area, which, depending on the scale of the investment, would increase the regulating capacity of hydropower in Finland by up to 4,000 megawatts,” Timonen says. The increase is significant when compared to the generation capacity of the Olkiluoto 3 plant unit (1,600 MW). The scale of the possible investment would total 2–3 billion euros.

“The availability of clean energy, reasonable power prices, and security of supply are the preconditions for us to be able to attract sustainable investments in Finland. An electricity system based on emissions-free production has to be supported by an increasing amount of flexible demand and supply as well as energy storage capacity,” says Riku Huttunen, Director General at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland.

“Electricity production in the future will vary more and be harder to predict and harder to regulate than right now. Hydropower’s importance as a source of regulating power will become even more pronounced in the future. Hydropower also balances fluctuations in power prices,” states Jukka Leskelä, Managing Director of Finnish Energy.

“In the electricity system, production and consumption must always be balanced. The availability of regulating power is essential for a society to run smoothly. The new pumped storage plants would significantly strengthen the role of hydropower as a source of regulating power and enhance the secure operation of the electricity system,” says Jukka Ruusunen, CEO of Fingrid.

“As we have emphasized together with the Regional Council of Lapland and Lapin Yrittäjät (Entrepreneurs of Lapland) in our Katse pohjoiseen programme, Lapland is key in the green transition. The north will continue to generate growth, well-being, and safety in the future. It is important that we get investments in renewable energy as well as new expertise in the energy sector in the north. New investments strengthen competitiveness and climate action of Lapland and all of Finland,” says Liisa Ansala, CEO of the Lapland Chamber of Commerce.

Factbox: Pumped storage hydropower balances and reduces power prices

  • Pumped storage hydropower well-known and widely used. The overall generating capacity of pumped storage hydropower is on the rise in Europe and elsewhere in the world. In Finland, EPV Energy is planning to build a pumped storage plant in a former mine in Pyhäsalmi.
  • Pumped storage enables storing electricity at exceptionally high efficiency rates of up to 80%.
  • A pumped storage plant requires relatively little space. The size of the upper reservoir is approximately one square kilometre, equaling the area required by 1–2 wind turbines.
  • The pumped storage plant would act as a hydroelectric battery and help balance Finland’s electricity system. The plant will produce power when demand is high, when it will run water through turbines down from the upper reservoir to the lower reservoir. When demand for electricity is low, the pumped storage plant will pump water back up into the upper reservoir.

Additional information

Tuomas Timonen
Kemijoki Oy
Phone +358 20 703 4410

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