Interview with Outi Heistman, Marketing Manager, Keravan Energia

We had an excellent chat with my local energy company, Keravan Energia, who have a solar energy farm here in Kerava. Outi gave us some excellent information, including how little energy you can get from solar in winter in Finland. Most of the Keravan Energia links are in Finnish, as they cater for an almost exclusively Finnish audience. The link to their “aurinkovoimala (solar farm) is quite informative with real time updates on how much power the panels are producing today.

How is Keravan Energia involved in renewable energy production? 

We believe that a diverse range of energy production methods brings benefits to our customers and us in the long run. That’s why we have a wide range of renewable energy sources in our selection. We have long invested in the use of biofuels for power generation – our bio-power plant here in Kerava produces electricity and district heat from domestic wood. The district heat generated by the power plant is sufficient to cover 75% of Kerava’s heat demand. Our plant produces electricity entirely without emissions, and we are also involved in a large-scale solar power plant in Hamina’s Mäkelänkangas ( www.suomenvoima.fi – Mäkelänkangas Aurinkopuisto). In addition, we are shareholders in Suomen Voima, and through them, we have invested in solar and wind power. Moreover, we buy guarantees of origin from the market for renewable energy as needed. All the wind and solar power we sell are renewable energy covered by a guarantee of origin.

What benefits does renewable energy offer for Keravan Energia’s customers?

Outi Heistman,Marketing Manager, Keravan Energia

Firstly, by purchasing renewable energy, our customers can contribute to preventing climate change. Finland is a cold country, so about half of the energy consumption of homes is spent on heating. Therefore, consuming renewable energy can have a significant impact on one’s carbon footprint when compared to fossil fuel power. Another aspect is the locality; many of our customers want to support locally produced renewable energy. We sell bio-electricity and bio-heat produced at the Kerava bio-power plant. Also, our customers can show their support for our local solar energy production by leasing their panels from the solar power plant. The panel production will be credited to the consumer electricity bill.

How efficient are the solar panels during wintertime when the sun doesn’t shine so much?

The production from solar panels during Finnish winter conditions is quite minimal. Solar panels produce electricity the best from March to September.

Are there any additional maintenance steps or care to be taken in winter?

Solar panels do not need any special attention in winter. You can shovel snow off the panels, but it is more a rewarding form of physical exercise than a benefit to electricity generation. The production volumes are really low in winter since the sun shines so short period and at a low angle.

Does Keravan Energia have any energy storage capabilities (batteries etc) and if so, how are they used? 

We currently have no solutions for energy storage. However, energy storage is currently an interesting topic in the energy sector, and it is developing rapidly. We are continuously monitoring developments and evaluating the alternatives.

How does the Finnish renewable energy market look in general at the moment? Are there any major trends you are seeing?

Wind power is beginning to be commercially viable, and new projects are constantly emerging, even without government support. The interest in solar energy is not showing any signs of subsidence either.

Climate action has the effect of making ordinary consumers want to take their part, for example, by investing in solar panels or opting for carbon-free electricity contracts.

Outi Heistmanm Marketing Manger, Keravan Energia

Climate action has the effect of making ordinary consumers want to take their part, for example, by investing in solar panels or opting for carbon-free electricity contracts. The use of wood as a fuel in power plants (defined as renewable energy) also seems to be increasing in Finland as old fossil capacity is being renewed.

What would be required for a house to go “off-grid” with solar and batteries in Finland? Would “off-grid” be something that would be encouraged by Keravan Energia? 

Off-grid systems are still rare in Finland (excluding summer cottages). The challenge is the Finnish climate (most of the energy is consumed when there is no sunshine). Sufficient battery capacity for daily storage and beyond is still very expensive. As I mentioned before, we are monitoring the development of batteries and, of course, we will provide them to our customers when it’s economically justified. As of today, this situation makes sense in some parts of our network already; such as in the archipelago, where maintaining the power grid is very challenging.

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