Today is the perfect day to dig a bit deeper on aFRR, one of the Balancing products that Exaum is offering to Fingrid, the Finnish TSO: Exaum is officially entering the market, and Fingrid has accepted our very first bids on aFRR today! Exaum, at the forefront of the green energy transition, is revolutionizing how we approach grid stability. Understanding the critical role of grid balancing amid fluctuating renewable energy sources, Exaum has ingeniously harnessed the power of artificial intelligence to optimize the use of purposely-built grid balancing modules. These modules stand ready, activated in moments when energy generation overshadows consumption, catering precisely to the grid's balancing needs.
The Imperative of aFRR
The Automatic Frequency Restoration Reserve (aFRR), also known as the secondary reserve, is pivotal to maintaining the equilibrium of our power grids. Its role is to stabilize grid frequency, ensuring it remains within the designated threshold to prevent brownouts or blackouts. For those less familiar, imagine the grid like a high-wire act where the balance between supply (generation) and demand (consumption) must be meticulously maintained; aFRR is the safety net that catches us if that balance is threatened.
Exaum's Unique Proposition in the aFRR Market
While traditional providers of aFRR have been power plants with high control capabilities, Exaum disrupts this model. As the primary provider of aFRR, Exaum diverges from the industry norm where such services are a secondary concern. In conventional setups, the energy-consuming equipment required for balance services must remain off most of the time, posing a challenge for providers who primarily depend on electricity for their operations. Exaum's unified solution, coupled with the hardware employed in the Kotka pilot, circumvents this constraint, offering a dependable and responsive reserve power that doesn't compromise the provider's primary business.
The Transition and Exaum's Role
Market designs and the rules for providing aFRR are diverse, yet the European Balancing Guidelines (EB GL) have set a framework to unify these variations. According to EB GL, aFRR should be fully activated within 5 minutes, following the gradual replacement of the Frequency Containment Reserve (FCR) after 30 seconds, and before the manual Frequency Restoration Reserve (mFRR) steps in after 12.5 minutes.
Critics often argue that the surge in unpredictable renewable energy sources like wind and solar could destabilize the grid. However, improvements in forecasting renewable feed-ins have led to better predictability and a decrease in activated reserve quantities. Virtual Power Plants and innovative market participants are becoming crucial with the phasing out of conventional power plants.
Exaum's AI-driven solution is at the helm of this transition, providing a clean, adaptable, available and cost-effective approach to aFRR, ensuring grid stability even as we move towards a more renewable-centric energy model.
Exaum in Finland and the Nordic Evolution
Since 2013, Nordic countries have adopted aFRR to maintain grid frequency and power balance. Fingrid, the Finnish TSO, acquires aFRR from the Nordic capacity markets. In Finland, the minimum adjustment size for aFRR is 1 MW, with an activation time of no more than 5 minutes.
Moreover, suppliers can offer separate up and down adjustment capacities to the hourly markets, receiving a capacity fee determined by marginal pricing. Fingrid is also planning to join the European-wide aFRR energy markets through PICASSO by mid-2024, potentially enhancing market efficiency through increased liquidity and competition.
The Future with Exaum's aFRR
Exaum's proprietary integration of smart software with specialized hardware is set to offer unparalleled aFRR services that align with the green energy transition's demands. With our pilot in Kotka and plans to expand, Exaum is not just participating in the market; we are actively shaping the future of grid stability. Traditionally 100% of the aFRR capacity has been provided by hydro power in Finland. However, this causes serious price spikes in the aFRR market during times when hydro power can't provide all the needed capacity and the wind is blowing hard. A good example of this kind of disturbance was in the beginning of October 2022, when aFRR down balancing price spiked to 1720€/MW/h. Exaum's assets are not limited by any weather or market conditions and the balancing capacity can be offered to the balancing market for every hour, 365 days a year .
In an era where the energy landscape is dynamically changing, Exaum's commitment to innovation and sustainable practices illustrates that a stable grid and a green future are not just compatible—they are mutually reinforcing goals. As we move forward, Exaum's aFRR solution exemplifies the transformative potential of technology to maintain harmony within our power systems, even in the face of increasing renewable energy integration.
Read more about Exaum in the recent press article on Tekniikka & Talous (in Finnish):