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Management Side
UPM Energy invests in an innovative ultracapacitor power system to enable more renewable energy within the electrical grid

HELSINKI (News release) -- UPM Energy is investing in an ultracapacitor at its Ontojoki hydropower plants, in Kuhmo, Finland. The ultracapacitor will be the first of its kind to be used in a hydropower system and the investment will enable UPM Energy to deliver more and faster reserves from hydropower plants. The investment is a full-size industrial pilot project, with the aim to test an innovative technology created to meet the changing electricity market demands and enable more renewable energy in the transmission system.

Nordic transmission system operators are increasingly facing challenges in keeping the electrical grid stable due to the fast increase in the supply by weather dependent renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. The more renewable energy, the more need for reserve capacity that can quickly respond to grid balancing needs.

Ultracapacitor first of its kind in a hydropower system

UPM Energy is a significant producer of hydropower and reserve power. With this investment UPM Energy will be the first to pilot multiple hydropower plants with ultracapacitor energy storage as part of a hydropower system. Two hydropower plants, Kallioinen and Katerma, are being combined under one optimisation and control entity, using modern digital systems and automation processes.

"An ultracapacitor, combined with hydropower can react in milliseconds and produce energy in extensive range, even for days if needed. It has the potential to bring in a new type of asset for the future reserve market", says Juha Haromo, Development Manager at UPM Energy.

Ultracapacitors are electrostatic devices that can be quickly discharged at high power and continuously react in milliseconds without losing capacity. Unlike batteries, the materials used for manufacturing ultracapacitors are generally available. Ultracapacitors are relatively maintenance free and have a significantly longer lifespan than batteries.

Construction work will begin in autumn 2021 and the aim is to connect the ultracapacitor system to Katerma and Kallioinen power plants during the second quarter of 2022. The ultracapacitor will not have any effect on dam safety or any effects on water usage or in the aquatic environment. Adding an ultracapacitor to a hydropower plant reduces the very rapid control needs of a hydropower plant and enables smooth production control.

UPM Energy develops new solutions to decarbonise the energy system and meet changing electricity market needs. UPM Energy has a significant role in zero-carbon electricity generation. UPM Energy also offers digital Beyond Spot energy management services for industrial and energy companies to optimise their energy process and benefit from the volatility in market prices. The future energy markets will require smart solutions and investments to ensure system flexibility and reliability.

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