Helen demonstrates reactive power compensation with solar inverters

At the beginning of 2016, mySMARTLife project partner Helen built a 890 kWp solar power plant in Kivikko, a quarter of Helsinki, where the solar panels were installed on the Arctic sport center’s roof top. The Arctic sport center offers skiing conditions the whole year through and due to the indoor conditions and its cooling devices, it consumes a large share of electricity as well as reactive power. It purchases and consumes all of the solar energy produced locally. In addition to this, the solar inverters of the power plant can also tackle the skiing center’s issue with reactive power. By compensating the reactive power locally, the Arctic sport center can avoid or decrease reactive power payments towards the distribution system operator.

The technical demonstration of the reactive power compensation was carried out during the summer months of 2017. The feasibility study showed that technically, the compensation is possible and the electricity bill regarding the reactive power payments was decreased. However, the monetary compensation does not cover the maintenance costs if the inverters are excessively loaded in the long run.

One aim in mySMARTLife is to further analyse the business potential in other environments and countries and also to accelerate the development of the reactive power market for compensation as a service. If there was a reactive power market operated by the local Distribution System Operators, a plant such as in Kivikko could also offer services to that market and reduce the reactive power in the local distribution network for financial compensation in return.