Virta introduces automated demand response to help Finland fight disruptions in energy distribution this winter

Preparing for energy disruptions that may threaten Finnish society this coming winter, Virta is introducing the world’s first nationwide automated demand response (ADR) for electric car charging power.  

More than half of Finland's public electric vehicle charging points operate on the Finnish transport company Liikennevirta Oy’s technology and service platform, which forms the Virta charging network. As a large number of Finnish electric cars are charged through the Virta network on a daily basis, it plays a crucial role in ensuring sufficient electricity.  

“As a responsible supplier of Finland's largest charging platform, we feel obliged to participate in ensuring the sufficiency of electricity in society in the event of disruptions,” says Juha Karppinen, Director of Energy Services at Virta.

Electric cars are becoming increasingly important for the stability of the energy system. 

Karppinen explains, “Although the electricity consumption used to charge electric cars is still small compared to many other industries, it already has an impact on the electricity distribution as a whole. Charging electric cars in the Virta network will not jeopardise the electricity supply in the coming winter. A momentary reduction in the power of charging points can bring the exact needed decrease to electricity consumption, thus preventing the need to cut off electricity to consumers more broadly. By 2030, the share of electric vehicle charging networks will grow significantly and its share of the total demand response market is estimated to be as much as 10%.”

Automated demand response technology continuously monitors the state of the power system using a variety of signals. If necessary, the flow of charge will be adjusted in accordance with the property restrictions, the electricity distribution network, and the national power balance. The system reacts in less than a second if, for example, the frequency of the power grid drops too low and the power balance is compromised. 

In the event of disruptions, the aim is to minimise the duration of the restrictions to a few minutes so that the quality of the download service does not suffer. However, these few minutes are enough time to start the backup power to correct the power deficit.

“The function will gradually be introduced in the approximately 6,500 service chargers in the Virta network starting from November 2022. Fast charging stations, where the shortness of charging time is most important, are excluded from automated demand response. We closely monitor that the service received by charging customers does not suffer from this," Karppinen explains.