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Berndt Schalin – Innovating for renewable energy

17.10.2019 | Linda Grönlund | Lukuaika 8 min
Flexens was founded in 2018 to become a world leading project development company for renewable energy systems. Success will be based on the capabilities created in a unique demo of the future energy system. Berndt Schalin, CEO of Flexens has a solid many years’ background in both the industry of energy efficiency systems and private equity fundraising for companies.

A society powered by 100 % renewable energy

The first of Flexens’ many demo platforms, Smart Energy Åland, will demonstrate the future energy system that authenticates how the whole society could run on 100 % renewable energy. The archipelagic autonomy Åland, in the Nordic, was selected to be the core of the demo. “Åland was chosen because it is an island, which makes it easy to analyze, and to see the effects on the society as a whole”, Schalin explains. “Åland has the benefit of being a fully operational society with almost 30 000 inhabitants , and also has industrial , service and huge transport sectors”, Schalin continues. “We are not looking for just one type of energy solution, but a wholesomeness for the many levels of a dynamic and modern society”, Schalin adds.

Åland has very good wind conditions and the most sun hours in Finland which makes achieving the targets a little bit easier. “It is also easy to monitor how much electricity we are importing and exporting when the island is connected to the mainland via two cables”, Schalin explains. “Åland is an autonomous region with its own legislation meaning that the energy market regulation is local. Åland is free to change its energy law without changing them for the whole of Finland”, Schalin explains.

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The main goal with the Smart Energy Åland is to get the island society running on 100% renewable energy. Renewable energy on Åland can be produced with wind, solar and biopower. “Wind and solar power are very versatile and may therefore generate electricity at times when it’s not needed. The idea is to store the excess energy in times of overproduction,” Schalin explains. During times of low or insufficient means of renewable energy production, the energy grid needs to be kept stable and reliant with the help of stored energy, generated from the previous overproduced energy. Therefore, the underlying question is how to store the overproduced energy. “We are going to demonstrate the future storage technologies that are needed to make the whole scheme viable. Batteries are simply too expensive to store the electricity in, heat is cheap to store, but the electricity is also needed for other purposes than just heating. So, the heat solution cannot be the only solution. Hence, we will look into the so-called power-to-X technologies, flywheels, and new ideas on how to store electricity “, Schalin explains.

Growth Engine for the Finnish energy technology

Flexens is a part of Business Finland’s Growth Engine program that is supporting technology development. “The assumption is that the companies in our network will bring their technologies into our demo. By participating in the Flexens’ ecosystem of companies, all the technology companies will reach 1 billion Euros in international sales”, Schalin says. Flexens received funding of 7 million Euros to develop their role as a “Growth Engine” of the ecosystem of energy technology companies in Finland. 

It is of utter importance to ensure that the system-level works. “We are talking about the system of systems, so the interaction technologies are the ones that are most exciting here as well as some of the storage concepts. That is because we need to build the storage facilities, but also make the interactions and system management level to work in a proper way”, Schalin explains. The most cutting-edge concept Flexens is working with is implementing a market for flexibility. “A flexibility market place is something that nobody has done yet. We will implement some of the development projects in that area as well to prove that the whole society can work with renewables only“ , Schalin sums up.

Do you want to work with the issues related to climate change?

“Intrinsic motivation has to come from a belief in renewable energy. This is a company where we really are at the core of energy transition and solving the climate problems”, Schalin says. At Flexens, you will get a broad overview of all the technologies related to renewable energy. Flexens is looking for the whole portfolio, with wind, sun and biopower and all the storage technologies that you can dream of. “If we manage to build the whole society to work only on renewable energy and solve the flexibility problem of the energy system, there is no limit where we can go. The demand for this system is glooming at the moment“, Schalin explains. The next projects for Flexens after Åland will most likely take place on an island or on isolated sites. “There are 2400 inhabited islands within Europe with 15 million people living on them, which creates endless possibilities. However, the solutions are replicable in any community or a smart city project” , Schalin continues.

Are you willing to be a part of creating the future for energy systems and work with a cutting-edge level of system implementation? Read more about Flexens and the open positions here.

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