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Minnesota utilities should invest in Finland's batteries R&D experience

image credit: https://www.businessfinland.fi/en/for-finnish-customers/services/programs/batteries-from-finland
Rao Konidena's picture
Independent Consultant Rakon Energy LLC

Rao Konidena found Rakon Energy LLC because Rao is passionate about connecting clients to cost-effective solutions in energy consulting, storage, distributed energy resources, and electricity...

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  • Aug 23, 2021 8:52 pm GMT
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Minnesota's Investor Owned Utilities such as Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power and Otter Tail Power Corporation are at the front lines of utility scale renewable energy in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) market.

If wind energy got Minnesota to the top of the renewable charts in MISO, solar and energy storage can help Minnesota maintain that lead. One country that is similar to Minnesota in the Nordics is actually in a position to provide that support - namely, Finland.

Finland is the leader in

  • Battery system engineering
  • Developing battery applications for harsh use
  • Traceability in the value chain
  • Battery safety
  • Large scale recycling of lithium batteries
  • Battery raw materials and chemicals

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Source: https://www.businessfinland.fi/en/for-finnish-customers/services/programs/batteries-from-finland

Now would be the time for Minnesota utilities to enter into partnerships with Finnish organizations in the energy storage and specifically in the batteries space.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 23, 2021

What is there unique to the Minnesota landscape that you think makes these utilies most primed for the Finnish battery tech? Is it simply that they've reached a certain maturity of renewables on the grid that they're ready to take the next step? Are other states who have made such progress just as well suited? 

Rao Konidena's picture
Rao Konidena on Aug 23, 2021

There are 3 primary reasons in my mind that Minnesota and Finland go well together in the energy space:

1) Minnesota and Finland are cold regions. As a result, we want our batteries to work in cold climates. Whether those batteries are in the car or on the grid, snow and minus temperatures are common to both MN and Finland. Hence, the technologies that work in Finland would work well in Minnesota's cold climate.

2) Both Minnesota and Finland have decent working experience with district heating and cooling systems. Finland is already seeing optimization around distribution system with the district heating systems. And in Minnesota, we are also leading with companies like District Heating & Cooling. Hence this Finnish district heating and cooling experience can be leveraged since Minnesota already has the infrastructure.

3) Companies in Minnesota can deploy capital in Finland and leverage Finland's geographic access to Europe. So, Finland can be a beach head to Minnesota companies international operations. Finland is very business friendly, English speaking employees and highly educated staff. Hence culturally it is also a good fit for Minnesota companies.

Minnesota is not the only state in US looking at Finland. Michigan, Maine are others that I am aware of.

Maine signed a MOU with Finland in 2019, https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/news/governor-mills-finland-prime-minister-sign-agreement-facilitate-maine-finland-forest-sector

Here is the MOU signed by Michigan Governor last year, https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499_90640-520840--,00.html

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 24, 2021

Fascinating, thanks Rao. I didn't realize Minnesota already had robust district heating systems. How do those interplay with potential battery systems-- is it just the benefit of having more diverse energy types / sources rather than being all electric for heating/cooling needs? 

Rao Konidena's picture
Rao Konidena on Aug 24, 2021

Matt

MISO has ramping market product that incentivizes resources capable of reacting quickly to morning ramp and evening ramp needs on the system. Hence batteries combined with district heating and cooling systems can work not only to ramp up/down during the day and evening but also during peak seasons whether it is summer or winter. That flexibility is what batteries provide in addition existing ramping capabilities of district heating and cooling systems.

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