Please harness the weather
For most people, a sunny 10° celsius day in March in Oslo is good news and an encouraging sign of spring. For Hafslund Varme, it’s not. The high temperature causes households to consume one third of the energy they would have consumed on an average March day, and the revenue per energy unit is lower, as the heat price is pegged to the power price, which drops when the temperature rises. The only positive addition to the equation is that Hafslund can use less expensive boilers, reducing the average production costs. Altogether, net profits for that sunny day in March is one million Norwegian kroner or more below average results.
Bringing in a pair of fresh eyes
Ingeborg Sauge Torpe graduated from the University of Oslo in June 2014 with a master’s degree in Applied Mathematics. Despite no previous experience with Hafslund or district heating, Ingeborg had one thing Hafslund needed: a specialisation in numerical optimisation. Only four days after graduating, she found herself in an office at Hafslund, deeply involved in the company’s latest optimisation project. Ingeborg remembers it as quite a kick-start. “Although I had been working with optimisation in my master’s thesis, I had no other experience. This was my first job”, she says. Hafslund, however, had great expectations for Ingeborg. The project ambition was to bring all operational features together in one simulation model in order to provide strategic-level answers to the management group.
The temperature risk curve
“It’s a bit complicated”, Ingeborg admits. But that didn’t stop her. Only three months after joining Hafslund, Ingeborg presented the “Temperature Risk Curve” to the company’s CEO demonstrating that true impact may indeed be achieved at all levels of an organisation and at all tenures. The primary purpose of the model is to provide the knowledge necessary to reducing risk exposure: By disclosing the relationship between profits and temperature, the model enables Hafslund to more efficiently hedge the risk. In addition, it may be used to optimise production planning.
were in 2014 connected to Hafslund Varme’s district heating grid, covering 20% of Oslo’s total heating requirements.
“With temperatures and prices constantly fluctuating – the price can change from one hour to the next – even the tiniest mistake in our systems has the potential to become a costly affair”, Ingeborg explains
From university to the CEO’s agenda in three months
Ingeborg’s Temperature Risk Curve was rapidly integrated into Hafslund Varme’s boiler operations. Today, the team applies the model on a daily basis to plan fuel combinations, determine which plants to activate when and to optimise pro casecurement and production. Meanwhile, Ingeborg continues to develop the tool for further application. “It can be used in many contexts”, she says. “For example to predict the effect of extreme scenarios. Let’s say we experience extreme weather and power cuts on the same day. Will we we still be able to deliver? I think this project has helped us become much more attentive to the choices we make every day”.
On a personal level, Ingeborg has enjoyed the ride from university to the CEO’s agenda. “I quickly got into my role while learning on the way, both about the Hafslund district heating system and about structured, hypothesis-based problem solving”. Having helped Hafslund harness the unpredictable Nordic weather appears to be merely a pleasant by-product.
Ingeborg joined Hafslund Varme directly from university in 2014. As a graduate in Applied Mathematics, her master’s thesis involved more partial differential equations than most people encounter in a lifetime. At the age of 27, Ingeborg is inspired by the idea of working towards sustainable and innovative energy solutions.