Åland’s Renewable Energy Revolution: A Small Region with Big Ideas

Åland Next

A few weeks ago I returned again to Åland, the Finnish, autonomous region between Finland and Sweden. Their path and self-governance was already agreed by the League of Nations before WW2, and they’ve since fared well in business, including tourism, shipping and e.g. speciality agriculture produce.

The reason for my visit in their capital Mariehamn was a new initiative (and now a company) called Flexens, which aims to transform the island group into using fully renewable energy sources within the next few years. We were able to gather all major stakeholders around the same table – transmission system operators, distribution system operators, energy retailers, telecom operators, platform providers (like us), and the local government.

With only 30.000 inhabitants, the region is an excellent pilot environment for new technologies such as demand response, distributed micro generation, vehicle-to-grid, electric public transport, smart (public) buildings and many others. Åland has transmission cable connections to both Finland and Sweden, so from resilience perspective they’re covered. With almost permanently windy conditions and top solar radiation in Finland, it’s also relatively easy to expand the share of renewables.

As with many other similar projects we’ve participated in, it turns out that a crucial component is a scalable, resilient, open and distributed data platform which all players can utilize to provide new, accurately quantified services to the public and to each other. Be it an individual household selling solar energy to the grid or the utility expanding to renting electric cars, the balance needs to be settled somewhere. Trust is key.

All too often the common digital platform is an afterthought without proper scalability, fault tolerance or distributed architecture considerations. Many advanced projects have ground to halt due to early customers losing trust while battling with unreliable systems.

In numerous deployments, BaseN is proud to serve as the mission critical, central IoT platform. Path to this is not always straightforward – sometimes we’ve saved the day (and face) for large integrators or cloud providers and even for competitors, but that’s just ok for us. Transforming businesses into Everything-as-a-Service and true sustainability is our passion. I think within a couple of years Åland is more known than Monaco.

Missed the last nBlog? Read it here.


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