How is the indoor energy usage when you don’t see the sun for 53 days?

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SMARCTIC project partners from Lapland explain how the energy is used during the winter months.
04 January 2021 - SMARCTIC  project
Latauslaituri, an off grid charging station for electric snow mobiles. Photo: Lapland University.

From North to South, energy usage is completely different across Europe, and it varies a lot from summer to winter months as well. Let’s start exploring the most northern areas where the sun does not rise at all during the present months! 

Let’s virtually travel to the Finnish Lapland, where the winter starts usually in October, or early November, and it finishes in March. Did you know that in some northern parts, the sun does not rise at all for 53 days? Yes, you are reading it right, the average daylight hours are 0 in many areas of the Northern Periphery and Arctic. If we had to describe the weather during winter in Lapland with three words, we would mention: ‘snow’, ‘cold’ and ‘dark’. “At this time of the year we basically don’t have any sunlight for a couple of weeks, for example, today the sun rises at 11:04 and it goes down at 13:22”, explains our project partner Hannu Korhonen, from Lapland University of Applied Sciences

Korhonen adds that, the average temperature during the day is about -10 degrees and it decreases up to -20 degrees at night. You might be continuously thinking about snow and you would be right. The typical weather during winter months in Lapland includes sunshine, rain, moderate and strong winds and snow, a lot of it… “We still have snow after March, but the temperatures are above zero, so it is spring with snow until late April”, states our SMARCTIC project partner. He mentions that temperatures can be as low as -30 but, “nowadays that is not as common as it used to be a couple of decades ago. Climate is changing…”

With this climatology, Hannu Korhonen explains that the average time spent indoors is about 20h per day. Therefore, heating becomes a necessity not only in public buildings, but also for the households. The main energy sources used during winter months are produced by the local energy company, which produces heat mainly from burning wood chips and peat. Asked about producing energy from melting the snow, our partner explains that they don’t do it: “We have had some research in melting snow from solar panels, so the panels would produce energy in winter but still the melting process uses more energy that can be gained from the panels”.

Hannu Korhonen adds that there are not any specific strategies, targets for reducing energy expenditure in the winter months when usage is higher “because most of the energy goes into heating and all the houses require a lot of heating in these cold months”. “Right now, we have about 20 cm of snow, but most of it will come in February/March so in the end of the winter we will probably have almost one meter of snow”.

The SMARCTIC project provides an integrated platform that allows citizens, universities, companies and public authorities to work together in their community to reduce energy usage.

Kilpiaapa, an off grid streaming system powered by solar panels. Photo: Lapland University.

Click here to email  Ianire Renobales at ERNACT for further information

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