More than 250 teams from 35 countries, from all around the world, submitted their ideas for the Helsinki Energy Challenge.
Ten finalist teams, with more than 100 people from over 40 organisations, from 12 countries, proceeded to the co-creation phase and further developed their ideas.
Among those, the Sustainable Heat Coalition brought together six European companies and their complementary technologies, including organisations from Central and Eastern Europe: Poland’s ConnectPoint and Hungary’s HeatVentors.
Through the proposal of Team Sustainable Heat Coalition, Helsinki will be the first to showcase this with their district heating (DH) network. The Team will deliver 1,039 gigawatts-hour (GWh) of CO2-free, non-hazardous and environmentally friendly solar thermal energy per year to the citizens of Helsinki while maintaining existing levels of indoor climate comfort.
“The energy sector is going through a remarkable revolution and we are faced with a systemic change on many different levels,” said Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori. “We did not expect the competition to yield one solution, which solves the whole puzzle. Instead, we now have in our hands a very wide range of solutions, which will help not only Helsinki but also other sustainable and innovative cities looking for heating solutions.”
The project will provide solar thermal heat with flat plate collectors and concentrated solar heat, not adding extra combustion technologies to the system. Using large-scale storage, up to 33 per cent of the total solar thermal energy collected per annum will be stored, allowing the system to operate year-round. Decentralised heat storage facilities will add day-to-day flexibility to the system and reduce peak demands, achieving an annual cumulative system demand reduction of up to 8.9 per cent.
A real-time intelligent district heating platform will allow Helsinki’s DH network to be smartly and remotely managed and citizen engagement will be stimulated through gamification. By adopting these proposed measures, Helsinki will be able to reduce its DH network’s CO2 emissions by an impressive 78 per cent by 2030 compared to current levels.
The proposed solution is highly sustainable, cost-competitive, technically feasible and has a high degree of social acceptance. Helsinki will be able to significantly decrease its import dependency on fossil fuels and provide a much higher degree of certainty for future operational costs. Through this front-running project, Helsinki will serve as an example of sustainable urban heating for other cities worldwide.
Photo: Helsinki Energy Challenge website.