Electricity network design and sustainable development
Updated: Jan 28, 2021
The electricity distribution network for the new office campus in Finland takes into account more than just the tenant companies’ energy demands. The future of use and sustainable development objectives are part of the picture, too.
The electricity network that will serve Trimble’s new offices in Espoo, Finland, was designed by Caruna, a major distributor of electricity in Finland and an avid user of Trimble NIS. The company is also actively refining its role in the larger movement towards international and national energy-efficiency targets.
The network is built by Eltel Networks Oy, a subsidiary of Eltel Group, a leading Nordic field service provider.
Since early steps in the project, the design of Trimble’s new Finland offices and all of the Oasis of Professionals campus around them hasstrived to meet the requirements of the BREEAM sustainability certification system. The property will utilize solar panels and offer circa 30 EV charging stations, and these have been taken into account in the design of the electricity distribution network.
Caruna supports technologies and digital solutions that enable companies’ climate action
“We have contemplated our role as an electricity distribution company a great deal, and we feel that we operate in the hub of the revolution,” says Development and Innovation Director Elina Lehtomäki of Caruna. “It is our corporate social responsibility and task to enable climate action, which mainly takes place on top of the distribution network, as well as to advance the related technologies and digital services and to build the infrastructure cost-effectively. An office building with solar panels and charging stations is a good example, but the zero-carbon objective also requires a significant increase in electrical solutions and changes in industrial processes. In the future, the supply and use of energy will diversify and there will be more fluctuation in the use of the power reserve.”
“We aim at responsible operations actively and under various themes, one of which is sustainable electricity distribution,” Lehtomäki says. “The infrastructure we are building now must remain functional for another 50–60 years and adaptable to predictable changes so that the entire system does not need to be rebuilt in just ten years. It is important to take into account local variety: the need for electricity will decrease in the regions with negative migration but increase in growth centers, such as Leppävaara in Espoo.”
“It’s critical to pursue basic R&D because we need to develop construction components and solutions,” Lehtomäki says. “A network company’s toolbox contains overhead power lines, cables and automation, and batteries will constitute a central technology to balance the power reserve. However, a more intelligent network will need to be built cost-effectively; not always with thicker but with smarter cable. This is where data and system capacity and Trimble’s services step in. Our carbon footprints can be reduced with digital solutions, too, by decreasing field visits and by smarter logistics. We have an online service at virtane.fi to enable Finnish customers’ climate action, and through this service we can provide data-based advice on the most suitable solutions to different needs. According to our customer satisfaction survey, a sense of security is essential to people in both physical and economical matters of energy.”
Caruna employs more than 1,000 professionals in Finland and regards employment, wellbeing at work and occupational safety highly important.
“The personnel is a company’s greatest asset which can be fostered with motivating and safe offices including good lighting, ventilation, ergonomics and tools. In addition, the personnel will appreciate sustainable and effortless ways to take climate action, such as EV charging stations provided by the employer. As telecommuting is becoming a common practice, office space may be used more diversely. I don’t think offices will become redundant, however, because people really need to share their work experiences with colleagues,” Lehtomäki says.
Connected loads increase but so does energy efficiency
“There will be many more buildings and several operators in the Hatsinanpuisto district, including the new Jokeri Light Rail, so we still have work to do,” says Petri Laaksonen of Eltel in charge of building the network designed by Caruna. “We have installed some five transformer units in the area, the cables routed between the railway tracks. In addition, we needed to take into account the little brook that flows through the center of Leppävaara and Vermo into the Iso Huopalahti bay. Its course needed to be modified due to the new construction.”
“Totaling about 6 hectares, this is a fairly easy and compact area to build on and manage. Our greatest challenges relate to scheduling the site. We first installed a medium-voltage connection for the Trimble building and a transformer unit in the ‘horseshoe’, then a low-voltage supply about 0.5 km from the unit to the parking facility. There will be three more separate transformer units in the area,” Laaksonen says.
“When scanning the area for planning, our objective was to establish as many cable and piping reservations as possible at once,” says project manager Kimmo Suihkonen of Caruna. “In the beginning of a project, we estimate electricity demand based on the building mass and the floor area given in the city plan, taking into consideration large parking areas and EV charging stations, for example. Solar panel specifications are included in the property’s electrical engineering, and the distribution network is dimensioned according to the required loads.”
“In practice, we start a project in Trimble NIS and create a preliminary plan,” Suihkonen says. “In larger projects we do some pre-planning. The project and the work order are submitted to the contractor, and the next design phase kicks off when Caruna has remotely approved them. The contractor is responsible for surveying, layout plans and building permits.”
“When designing an electricity distribution network, Trimble NIS can provide cost estimations based on the amount of cables, transformer units and cabinets, for example,” explains Caruna’s Trimble NIS service manager Vesa Pajuoja.
“In the design phase, we exchange information between the project parties, update the data, and refine the design frequently,” Suihkonen says. “Caruna and Eltel work on a shared design in the network information system. In principle, the process is very simple, but it does require plenty of communication about route modifications and scheduling. We need to agree on where to install at which stage of the project. In order to install the property’s transformer unit and its electrical interface, we need to monitor the offices’ piping and interior installations, for example. The main points of approval are shown in the workflow and the scheduling in the parties’ own systems. Trimble NIS indicates when new parts are commissioned in the network.”
“The maximum load requirement for computers and other electrical equipment is taken into consideration when planning the distribution inside the property,” Laaksonen says. “This affects the thickness of cables and the quality of overload protection. The most important thing is to ensure sufficient supply and to reserve capacity for a future need of extra power by using parallel conductors.”
“Connected loads have increased lately mainly because of preparing for electric vehicles, but over the years the peak loads have not changed significantly because at the same time devices and applications become more energy efficient,” Suihkonen explains.
“Offices are now built in tall buildings, not on 2–3 floors like before. In addition to office equipment, the ventilation, heating and lighting systems impact electricity demand. Transformer units do adjust to the power demand, and many companies now invest in their own secondary power system. The new Trimble offices have good connections, and there will be enough power to charge electric cars.”
Trimble tools support electricity distribution design in the new environment
Elina Lehtomäki says that Caruna is investing heavily on digitalizing its processes and distribution development in particular, and Trimble’s tools and effortless cooperation play an important role in this.
“Right now we’re focused on Trimble Network Optimizer and involved in a fantastic computer-aided design project. To my knowledge, nobody else in the field is investing in anything similar,” Lehtomäki says. “Another major step forward is digitalizing field work, in order to eliminate correction rounds and the risks involved there, as well as contract management. We always have the most up-to-date data available, but we want more predictability. A current status is not enough anymore; we need to know what will be in some months or years. We must be able to model future electricity demand based on historical data with the help of artificial intelligence.”
Caruna also wants to make it as easy as possible for small-scale producers to join the network i.e. to enable distributed generation.
“With our innovation team, we are looking into the possibilities of placing energy reserves at the customer end and wondering if the energy field could join forces to find solutions to load equalization and demand response, to advise and connect service providers and initiate pilots with municipalities and the private sector. So far there has been plenty of lip service around energy storage but not so much action, and it would be valuable to gain hands-on experience to support the theories,” Lehtomäki concludes.