Exaum announced the launch of its 1-megawatt AI-optimised grid balancing pilot, the latest step in scaling its heat-generation-based power demand response technology. The pilot has been installed at Karhulan Industrial Park located 130 km east of Helsinki. This first-of-its-kind system aims to help enable the green energy transition by providing near-instantaneous grid balancing of power as more wind, solar, and other green but unpredictable sources are added to the transmission system operator’s supply choices.
Climate change is driving the electrification of industries, which causes energy demand to soar. As CO2-free generation struggles to keep up with the demand, we are seeing blackouts and brownouts in many parts of the world. More providers are considering demand response solutions to keep the electrical grid balanced and functioning. But as the world transitions to greener sources of energy as a higher percentage of their power production, the unpredictable nature of renewable energy generation becomes a new variable that must be managed differently than the way it was done in the past.
“The shift to using more renewable sources of energy in Finland and around the world will also require a shift in the way we supply and balance power in the grid,” says Henri Yoki, Founder, and CEO of Exaum. “Unlike with the use of fossil fuels, when we have a completely green energy supply, the generation needs to be built to always exceed the demand. Thus, when the wind doesn’t blow that much, there still is enough generation to match the demand. This naturally means that when there is a heavy wind and the generation is at its maximum, there needs to be matching additional consumption. Essentially, in the green energy transition consumption is great, but it needs to appear when the grid needs it. We actually need to find new ways to sustainably consume energy to maintain balance.”
“The use of demand response will need to focus more on controlling what to do when there are heavy winds and too much sunshine, e.g. excess generation. This needs to be managed and channelled so that the consumption meets the needs of the grid, both turning things on and off at the right time and especially turning things on. This understanding is what drove us to create Exaum and this solution.” continued Yoki.
Fingrid is the Finnish Transmission System Operator, and is responsible for balancing the power system, electricity production & consumption in real time.
“The energy transition is challenging the balancing of electricity production and consumption, which is handled in real-time mainly via balancing markets maintained by Fingrid. Wind and solar power production increases fast in Finland, increasing the need for flexibility in the power system. This is leading to the need to find additional flexible electricity production, consumption, and storage to ensure the balance of consumption and generation. We welcome new balancing service providers such as Exaum to balancing markets; new solutions and new thinking are needed to ensure cost-efficient markets for the future,” says Tuomas Mattila, Balancing Markets Expert at Fingrid Oyj.
Although there are many uses for the excess power, for Finland, one natural use is industrial heating.
“We were very open to this new way of heating our warehouses and facilities,” said Jorma Hyvänen, an entrepreneur benefitting from Exaum’s solution in the Karhula Industrial Park. “Of course, we are always looking for ways to run our business more sustainably, but this was very much an economic decision for us. District heating in the winter can be a major cost, so we are always looking for better solutions. It is great to see that doing good business is also the best choice to benefit the environment.”
Next, Exaum aims to complete Nordic and Baltic pilots while scaling the solution further in Finland. In addition, run-time experience and data reporting together with further automation are now the core focus of the Finland-based Exaum team.
“We are now continuing the development and optimisation of the system for larger-scale operations,” says Panu Ahola, CTO of Exaum. “Proof that AI-driven power demand response works so well in this type of application opens the opportunity for use far beyond our current focus of industrial heating. Cost savings for anyone consuming energy and the possibility of that energy being provided without climate impact is exactly the future I want to be part of.”
The Exaum team will be in Slush, Helsinki from 30 November to 1 December. They are currently welcoming contacts from interested investors and organising a trip to visit the demonstration site in Kotka. Board members include former Aalto University Startup Center Director and experienced angel investor Tapio Siik and seasoned Founder-entrepreneur Marko Lehtovaara.