Interest in building offshore wind power in Finland has grown exponentially. Fingrid has launched a study to preliminarily determine possible connection points for offshore wind projects to the main grid. The results of the study are expected to be available by summer 2024.
By mid-October, Fingrid had received preliminary connection inquiries for offshore wind power projects amounting to almost 90 gigawatts. The projects are located in Finnish territorial waters, in the exclusive economic zone, and in the territorial waters of Åland. For national defence reasons, the project areas are concentrated west of Finland, north of Åland. The project areas overlap to some extent.
Typically, individual offshore wind power projects are the largest power plant projects ever planned in Finland in terms of installed generation capacity. Therefore, the planning of main grid connections for offshore wind power projects requires new kinds of decentralised connection solutions and extensive system studies. Planning is particularly challenging due to uncertainty about how electricity consumption and production will develop and be located in the future. If electricity consumption will focus more on the west coast instead of the current Southern Finland, it will curb the investment needs caused by connecting offshore wind power to the main grid. If, on the other hand, the electricity produced by offshore wind power plants is expected to be transmitted to Southern Finland, several new 400-kilovolt transmission connections will have to be built in addition to the planned investments in the Finnish main grid development plan.
Fingrid has launched a study with the aim of determining possible main grid connection points and capacities for offshore wind power projects as well as preliminary schedules for implementing the connections in the 2030s. As a result of the study, main grid investments that are likely to be required for connecting offshore wind power projects will be identified, but at this stage, Fingrid will not yet make decisions on the implementation of these main grid investments or on reserving connection capacity for offshore wind power projects. The study is expected to be completed by summer 2024.
In accordance with current practice, connection capacity from the main grid is reserved for an individual project in a connection agreement, which requires that the customer has the necessary permits to build the project. For the time being, Fingrid does not have any connection agreements with offshore wind power projects. Before a connection has been agreed with Fingrid in the connection agreement, the projects’ plans for connection points and connection lines must be processed as preliminary.
Fingrid is also currently considering the possibilities of developing reservation practices for connection capacity. Developers of both large electricity generation projects and consumption projects have highlighted the need to obtain certainty about main grid connections at an earlier stage than current practice to enable investment.