All the 36 wind turbines in Ilmatar’s first hybrid park in Alajärvi have been commissioned for commercial production. The wind turbines are a part of the unique 370-megawatt hybrid complex where Ilmatar is also planning to build a significant scale solar farm and energy storage solution.
Ilmatar, a Nordic energy company and independent power producer (IPP), started commercial production of a 36-turbine wind farm in Alajärvi, South Ostrobothnia, Finland just before Christmas in 2023. This means that the full-rated capacity of the wind farm of 221 megawatts (MW) is in operation and wind produces around 587 gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable energy every year.
“Completing the wind farm successfully at Alajärvi was the first step in our project that will become one of the first hybrid parks in Finland. With Alajärvi project we reinforce our position as a forerunner in renewable energy branch and demonstrate our ability to advance the market in ways that bring added value to several stakeholders. Hybrid parks that produce renewable energy with more than one source and have energy storage to balance the power, are becoming the future of renewable energy production”, comments Juha-Pekka Weckström, CEO, Ilmatar Energy.
The wind farm is a result of excellent international cooperation. Japanese Kansai Electric Power, an electric utility operational in the Kansai region in Japan, is a minority shareholder in Alajärvi’s wind farm. The wind farm is the second renewable power plant in which Ilmatar and Kansai Electric Power have collaborated. Kansai Electric Power Group is committed to making its operations carbon-free as well as helping the society to become zero-carbon.
“I am proud that the Alajärvi wind farm project has reached this momentous milestone of commercial operation as a result of our strong partnership since participating in the project in 2021. We will continue to cooperate with Ilmatar and be deeply involved in management of the project to ensure its safe operation. Our company commits to accelerate renewable energy projects around the world in order to achieve decarbonized society”, says Mikio Matsumura, Representative Executive Officer, Vice President, Kansai Electric Power.
There were many things that needed to be taken into consideration during the construction of the wind farm. With detailed planning and very good cooperation, the construction progressed well and was completed in schedule.
“The Alajärvi wind farm is like a cross-section of Ilmatar’s history. It has been great to be involved in this important project and to see it being built on time and on budget, in good cooperation with both local authorities and contractors. Also, the cooperation between Kansai Electric Power and Ilmatar has been exceptionally professional and smooth. Alajärvi wind farm will point us towards the future by transforming into a hybrid park in the years to come”, says Petri Ainonen, Director, Construction at Ilmatar.
Unique renewable energy complex
After the wind farm has now been completed Ilmatar plans to expand the complex to a unique hybrid park. A hybrid park is a set of installations producing energy with more than one production mode, which in Alajärvi means a trinity of wind, solar and battery farms. Ilmatar is planning to build a large-scale solar park and battery storage facilities to complement the wind farm. The additions are meant to be built between 2024 and 2025, with the full-scale plant ready to start commercial production by 2026 at the latest.
A hybrid park has significant positive synergies. In addition to the interconnection agreement, the wind, solar and energy storage facilities share substations and electricity transmission cables within the park. This saves both investment and the use of raw materials.
“The energy storage and solar power generation will be in the immediate vicinity of the wind farm, within the sub-zoning area designated for renewable energy production. Energy will thus be produced and managed in two vertical layers in the same geographical area. In this way, land use is more efficient and environmental impacts are concentrated in a smaller area compared to if the projects were implemented separately”, explains Katja Koponen, Business Development Manager at Ilmatar.
In addition to the wind farm’s 221 MW rated capacity, a 150 MWp solar farm will be built in the area, and a 25 MW/50MWh battery storage facility will complement the production. For the construction of the solar farm and battery storage, Ilmatar has received an EU/RRF grant of €19.5 million from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.