solar village

Modern villages - Sinnit kylät


Project description

The SINNI project is investigating whether the existing and future building stock in sparsely populated areas can be utilized in the production of decentralized energy. The use of building groups in the vicinity of main roads and power lines will be examined as possible Virtual power plant platforms, and the production potential of solar electricity will be examined. The project investigates whether solar panels installed on the roofs and walls of buildings and in courtyards can be used to generate energy for the needs of changing energy consumption.

The research object of the SINNI project is the villages and building groups of Rovaniemi, which are in the vicinity of main roads and power lines and form sufficiently cohesive groups from the point of view of energy production. The project examines the potential for the production of photovoltaic electricity on the basis of a decentralised structure and integrated into buildings and yards.  The study takes into account the existing built environment and the new construction projects, made possible by land use plans in the target villages and in connection with construction companies. The project defines the criteria for a decentralised energy production unit for village areas, i.e. the so-called “SINNI village”. The SINNI village identifies existing and future energy production potential, the development of land use in research areas and possible constraints.

The development of villages in the town of Rovaniemi is seen as a new kind of potential. Villages can operate as part of a decentralised energy system.  The owner of the property can install the solar panels themselves or rent the buildings (walls, ceilings) of his property and the fields in the yard as platforms for the decentralised energy system. Real estate generates new income streams, while maintaining the properties is ensured and the value of the building stock is preserved. The decentralised energy system enables a more advanced network of electric vehicles in the sparsely populated area. This also makes it possible to develop villages from the point of view of tourism.

Work packages:
WP1: Management - Oulu School of Architecture

WP2: SINNI types, built cultural environmentl and land use - Oulu School of Architecture

WP3: Spatial data analytics - Geography Research Unit

WP4: Virtual Power Plants - Energy and Environmental Engineering group 


WP4 Virtual Power Plants 

Decentralized production and consumers are an integral part of the energy transition process. Energy communities offer consumers the opportunity to participate and influence. One way is to exploit local energy resources, such as solar energy potential. Regionally operating energy communities balance electricity load, which reduces the need to invest in satisfying peak loads. Where possible, energy communities can also provide energy to the market. The production of individual houses is presumably low but, combining several sites and houses as a whole, already provides considerable potential, which may be close to the level of a small power plant. This set of several houses and nearby villages is referred to in the study as a virtual power plant (VPP). For example, a VPP made up of photovoltaic systems can provide guaranteed power and flexibility to the electricity market. At the moment, in Finland, it is not profitable to produce more electricity than you consume. However, if the generated solar power is a power plant’s worth, the surplus electricity can be sold on the energy market. The project proposes the establishment of Energy Communities, in which energy producers, users, intermediaries and service providers cooperate openly and together to decide, for example, on the best business models and development targets. The open question is how local production is organized and how the system is managed. In most cases, there is a third-party energy service provider that runs the VPPs. In decentralized energy production, communication between customers and small producers is emphasized. To foster communication, the VPP operator takes care of the flow of information and also handles transactions in the electricity market on behalf of the energy community.

The aim of the work package is 

  • to determine the boundary conditions of a virtual power plants in the villages of Lapland,
  • assess what electricity produced in energy communities can be used for, what it replaces and what is the market potential;
  • determine the optimal model of virtual power plants.

This WP assesses how much of the research area's energy needs can be covered by solar energy. We also define the boundary conditions of SINNI villages, which is the minimum number of houses needed to have optimal production from the perspective of a VPP. The WP also considers different use strategies for the electricity produced (own use, storage, direct sales, charging network, etc.).


  1. Energy system and consumption mapping of pilot areas
  2. Planning local energy communities
  3. Optimal model of a virtual power plant
  4. Options for energy communities
  5. Summary of recommendations and preparation of a preliminary study report

Project coordinator

University of Oulu


The project is coordinated by Prof. Tarja Outila at the Oulu School of Architecture, they are responsible for WP1 and WP2.

The  Geoinformatics Research Groups (Dr. Harri Antikainen) is also a project partner, responsible for WP 3

Other project partners and co-financiers:

Lapin ELY-keskus, Napapiirin energia ja vesi, Rovakaira, City of Rovaniemi


Vinay Shekar

Doctoral student