Towards Solar Economy
Fortum’s long-term aspiration is to be a carbon dioxide-free power and heat company. In recent years, Fortum has deepened its understanding of the future energy system – Solar Economy. Transition towards Solar Economy changes the way energy is produced and consumed as well as the whole energy system required to enable the realisation of the vision.
In Fortum’s view, the pathway towards Solar Economy will proceed step-by-step as the technology and society develops. The current energy production forms are likely to be utilised until they are no longer financially feasible and until the power plants have reached the end of their life-cycles. Along the way, advanced energy technologies, like biomass-based combined heat and power (CHP) production, will become important. Nuclear power will remain alongside the new forms of energy, and its development will also continue. For example, small-scale nuclear power plants with passive safety solutions will be developed.
Solar Economy is a flexible and smart energy system
Solar Economy is not based solely on one fuel or technology, it offers diverse opportunities. Energy from the sun will be used either directly as solar electricity or heat, or indirectly as hydro, ocean, wind and bioenergy and geothermal energy. Solar Economy is based on high resource and system efficiency and on power and heat production driven by an emissions-free and inexhaustible energy source. Electricity as an energy carrier enables high system efficiency and is taking an increasing share in the energy system.
In Solar Economy, the energy system is more dynamic and intelligent, always allocating resources in the most efficient way. This means for example using the cheapest possible production form. Electricity is produced in locations where the conditions are the most favourable in terms of the primary energy source and from a total system efficiency point of view. Electricity is generated both centrally and in a distributed manner. Characteristic of the system is that the electricity load also adjusts to production. With the change, electricity consumers can also be electricity producers – customers become active players with more ability to track and adjust their electricity usage and its financial and ecological implications.
Increasing the share of renewable energy and decentralised energy in the future energy system means more volatility in energy production and energy flowing both directions. The two-way transmission of electricity requires investments in smart grids. In Solar Economy, energy can be stored, transmitted even long distances and used flexibly based on need.
Development of the smart societies of Solar Economy also requires collaboration between many sectors, for example the energy producers, information technology, transportation and construction. In addition to smart energy production and distribution, the future urban energy system is characterised by eco-efficient construction, electric transportation, and smart heating and cooling solutions. In the future energy system, electricity will replace other energy sources, e.g., in transport.
Fortum’s approach to Solar Economy
The ambition towards low-emitting energy production has been part of Fortum’s strategy for a long time. In 2011, around 65% of Fortum’s total electricity production and 85% of the company’s electricity production in the EU was CO2-free. At the moment, Fortum uses a variety of energy sources and production technologies in its energy production. The company’s large-scale, emissions-free electricity production technologies are hydropower and nuclear power. These will continue to be the cornerstone in Fortum’s electricity production for a long time to come. Biofuels and waste-derived fuels constitute a significant share of the fuels in CHP and heat production. Fortum also utilises fossil fuels on a large scale, especially in Russia, where energy production is based on natural gas and coal.
Fortum believes that it is possible to make a transition from traditional energy production and utilisation of exhaustible energy sources towards Solar Economy. The transition will happen gradually in tandem with the renovation of production capacity and the construction of new capacity. In addition to hydro and nuclear power, high-efficiency technologies, like gas- and multifuel-based CHP, will provide a significant contribution when Fortum gradually transforms its energy production towards Solar Economy.