Hydro back up

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Finnish utility Revon Sähkö Oy has ordered four Nordtank 500 kW turbines from Denmark to add to the six Nordtank 300 kW turbines it currently operates. The company has invested in wind power on strictly economic grounds, explains the utility's Jussi Malkamki to Vindögat, the newsletter of the wind power association of Finland.

Revon Sähkö Oy is using wind power to back-up its hydro power stations. The reservoirs which supply these stations tend to run dry too early in the year. By using wind power during the windy winter season, the utility says it can save water and make it last longer. In this way wind power is a profitable venture.

The wind turbines produce electricity for FIM 0.32/kWh, but the cost to the utility is just FIM 0.20/kWh once state subsidies have been taken into account. And in Finland an environmental levy of FIM 0.02/kWh has also been introduced on the price of all electricity, although wind power is excluded. With the prospect of coal prices increasing by some 20-30 per cent in the next few years, utilities are beginning to cast around for other options.

But in the long run it is always profitable for a utility to produce its own electricity, claims Jussi Malkamki, who doesn't like the idea of wind co-operatives. The purpose of utilities is to produce and distribute electricity. "Since wind power is good business, there is no reason for us to let others handle it," he comments.

Malkamki expects other utilities in Finland to follow suit. They have shown a growing interest in Revon Sähkö Oy's wind power project. When the "big ten" (Finland's ten dominating utilities) begin to move, it will start an avalanche, he expects. Four of them have already taken the initiative and started searching for wind power sites in their local areas.

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