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Helsinki City Uses Public Buildings as Virtual Power Plants

The city of Helsinki has very ambitious sustainability goals, therefore they are always looking for ways to make the city and the buildings even greener.

The increasing share of renewable energy in the power grid will result in challenges in load management due to the natural variations of that energy production, due to weather, wind etc. At the same time, the actual demand and supply of electricity always need to be constant in the grid. So, sometimes during a cold winter, additional coal plants or gas turbines for producing electricity need to be started in order to keep the demand and supply of electricity in the power grid stable. And this will create CO2 emissions.

One way to avoid this, is to use buildings as virtual power plants by utilizing demand response. The city’s buildings will then work as energy storages and a buffer for maintaining the stability in the power grid.

Nuuka is currently piloting a demand response solution in two schools together with City of Helsinki. Nuuka software is used to manage the demand response functions, while at the same time securing that the indoor climate and all other building processes work as they should. (Helsinki already has all this data, monitored in real time, in the Nuuka platform: The very foundation for executing demand response in large buildings)

Nuuka has successfully completed the first tests for controlling the HVAC loads in the buildings, while monitoring in real-time the impact to indoor climate. Results are very promising. In the next phase the controlling is done in compliance with Fingrid’s (Finnish TSO) demand response markets, primarily with FCR-N market.

For more information on Helsinki’s approach to demand response in city buildings and cooperation with Nuuka, see the video from Smart Otaniemi seminar here at 2:54:06.

The City of Helsinki has committed to saving programs for energy and water use in its buildings, and to act as international trendsetter in the energy efficiency. Helsinki has ambitious stated goal to be carbon neutral by 2035.

Last year, city of Helsinki executed a public procurement for energy and smart building management software for their 1700 public buildings. Nuuka became the successful tender, and currently the Nuuka software has been implemented to these buildings. The building portfolio consists of public buildings such as schools, libraries, hospitals, daycare and playground buildings. Nuuka provides city of Helsinki a data platform for aggregating and analyzing vast amount of the data form different data sources from city of Helsinki’s buildings.

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