National electrical grid operator Fingrid has warned that temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius in densely-populated southern Finland may trigger the need for precautionary measures.
At worst, severe cold coupled with high demand may require rotating power outages this winter – with the start-up date for the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor still uncertain.
Last week, there were fears that this week's weather might be ominous from the standpoint of electricity sufficiency. However, while this week will bring significant snowfall to most of Finland, there is no severe cold in the forecast – and electricity may be cheaper thanks to brisk winds.
According to Yle meteorologist Elias Paakkanen, there will be temperatures of zero to -5 degrees in the early part of this week. Cloud cover will keep temperatures moderate. At night, it may drop to between -5 and -10 degrees below zero, slightly colder in Finnish Lapland.
Swedish reactor offline as well
In previous years, electricity consumption has been at its peak during periods of severe cold lasting several days in Finland and the Baltic Sea region.
This winter, energy capacity is limited due to the knock-on effects of the Russian attack on Ukraine, including the halt in electricity and gas imports from Russia, as well as delays in commissioning the new reactor at the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant, and problems with electricity production in neighbouring countries.
For instance, on Friday Swedish utility Vattenfall said it had delayed the restart of the Ringhals 4 nuclear reactor by around three weeks to 23 February, in a further setback to power supply in the Nordic and Baltic region.
As a result, grid authorities may have to resort to unusual measures to ensure that essential services remain up and running.
The good news this week in Finland is that brisk winds should boost the production of wind electricity and lower its price.
According to Paakkanen, winds will increase this week but not reach storm intensity. On Monday, winds will intensify on the western Ostrobothnian coast. He predicts an average wind speed of about eight metres per second, with gusts up to 15 metres per second.
Snowy week ahead
Snow is also on the way throughout the country. As of Monday evening, Ostrobothnia and Åland are still snow-free, but they too will get snow cover this week, Paakkanen noted.
On Monday, the north will receive a few more centimetres of snow, with more than 10 centimetres on the way for the southwestern Lapland coastal area. Tuesday will bring snow – and difficult driving conditions – to southern and eastern Finland.
On Wednesday, another weather front will arrive, bringing 5 to 15 centimetres of snow to the southern and central parts of the country. In this case, even the snowless areas of the Vaasa region will finally be covered with snow. Helsinki, on the south coast, may have up to 20 centimetres by Thursday.
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