Glaciers and Fjords: How SKL Will Extract the Full Value of Its Hydro Flexibility

Hydropower producer Sunnhordland Kraftlag AS (SKL) will take advantage of its significant flexibility through smart production planning, increasing revenue from power generation with the help of Volue’s Smart Generation software suite.


Jul 7, 2022

Perched high above the spectacular Hardanger fjord in the west of Norway, the iconic Folgefonna glaciers are among the largest in Norway. The meltwater from the glaciers is bottled at the source and sold as Isklar, the well-known Norwegian water brand.

The meltwater also goes down into the hydropower system of Sunnhordland Kraftlag AS. Founded in 1946, SKL has been bringing stable and sustainable electricity to the region for more than 70 years.

But in recent years, the glaciers have been melting, creating inflow challenges for the hydropower producer. Sunnhordland Kraftlag already deals with some of the wettest weather in Norway with precipitation of up to 4000 mm per year.

Fortunately, SKL’s hydro reservoirs are highly flexible and can store huge amounts of water.

Now, the hydropower producer will use Volue’s Smart Generation software suite to extract the full value of its flexible portfolio.

“We will continue to focus on profitable growth within renewable hydropower generation, and in parallel develop SKL to become an even more optimal and efficient, pure power generation company,” says John Martin Mjånes, CEO of SKL.

Inflow forecasting

Because of the melting glaciers, inflow forecasting is especially important for optimising SKL’s energy production.

With Volue’s Smart Generation software, Sunnhordland Kraftlag will find out how much water is expected to come into the reservoir system every hour over the next two-week period.

“Inflow is the fuel supply for a hydro producer. Therefore inflow forecasting is important for SKL as they need to make sure they can handle the water optimally,” says Nils Olav Tangvik from Volue.

The Smart Energy solution will also help Sunnhordland Kraftlag improve its seasonal planning of hydropower generation.

“So far this has been handled by SKL by almost emptying their reservoirs before the heavy inflow season, and by filling the reservoirs to the allowed maximum during wet periods and before the dry winter season,” says Nils Olav Tangvik.

Volue’s Smart Generation will change this. The solution will prepare long-term inflow forecasts by using a mix of weather forecasts and historical weather data as input. Combined with the long-term price forecast from Volue Insight, it will suggest how reservoir storage should be best-utilised week-by-week throughout the year.

This planning cycle will help the hydropower producer get higher value out of the water on a yearly basis. At the same time, SKL will contribute to power market stability by producing more when demand (and power prices) are high, all the while making sure there is enough water in the reservoirs to keep producing electricity during the dry winter period.

SKL Blafalli Vik

Price-dependent bids for a volatile market

With power prices fluctuating in the Nordics and beyond, SKL is looking to stay on top of a volatile power market.

Thanks to Volue’s Smart Generation suite, SKL will take advantage of fluctuating prices in the Spot market. The software will calculate how much Sunnhordland Kraftlag should sell every trading hour.

Price-dependent bids, as opposed to fixed bids for fixed volumes, help the energy system overall. When the price is high, flexible energy producers such as SKL can offer more energy into the market, bringing prices for consumers down.

SKL will perform the optimisation of production planning based on power price forecasts from Volue Insight to which the hydro producer has subscribed for some time.

Sunnhordland Kraftlag also already uses Volue’s solutions for trading in the balancing markets.

Laying the foundation with Mesh

SKL will be a front-runner in using Volue’s Mesh-based Smart Energy solution.

Volue Mesh is Volue’s next-generation data management solution which allows customers to structure efficiently data and time-series, and gives high flexibility, scalability and maintainability for data management.

Mesh will be used to model the hydropower system and to manage the data and time-series calculations for the production planning process.

“SKL will be an early adopter of our Mesh solution,” says Nils Olav Tangvik. “Several of our customers are transitioning from the traditional Smart Generation (SmG) solution to Mesh. SKL is starting out with Mesh and this is very exciting. We will be able to lay the foundation right from the very beginning.”

The road ahead

The new collaboration confirms Volue’s position as a market leader in providing solutions and services for the entire energy management value chain – from forecasting, optimisation and production planning, to energy trading and scheduling.

Volue’s portfolio currently includes major clients such as Uniper, E.ON, Axpo, Kelag, Luminus, Fortum, Hafslund Eco, Hydro Energi, Agder Energi, Eviny, Sydkraft Hydropower, Landsvirkjun.

SKL will also use Volue’s services for their planned new hydropower plant. Volue will perform an analysis which will enable the company to leverage the flexibility in the hydro system even more.

About SKL

Sunnhordland Kraftlag AS (SKL) was founded in Stord, Norway in 1946 as regional cooperation to ensure stable and sufficient access to electric power to Sunn- and Midthordland. Later, the collaboration was expanded to include Nord-Rogaland (Haugalandet).

Today, SKL faces new challenges in developing the company further through several exploratory hydropower projects.

Power production is and always has been SKL's most important activity. SKL currently owns and operates a total of 20 power stations, and has an ownership share in several others. Total output is 716 MW, and hydropower production is about 2,700 GWh in a nominal year.

60% of the production comes from the Blådalsvassdraget (Blåfalli) in Matre in Kvinnherad municipality. Here, around 30% of the catchment area is covered by the Folgefonna glaciers.