Helsinki aspires to be one of the leading cities in the transition to a sustainable future, with the goal of becoming CO2 neutral by 2035. To achieve this goal, the city decided in February 2020 to launch a competition – the Helsinki Energy Challenge – to take on the challenge of decarbonising its heating network in a sustainable way. On Tuesday 16 March, an international jury selected four winners, including as first runners-up from a total of more than 250 entries, the European team HIVE (Hyvä means “good” in Finnish). HIVE consists of the international group ENGIE (FRA) and its subsidiary Storengy (FRA), the Finnish solar collector manufacturer SAVOSOLAR (FIN), the technical consultants of NEWHEAT (FRA) and PLANENERGI (DK) as well as the Austrian research institute AEE – Institute for Sustainable Technologies (AEE INTEC).
HIVE proposes a solution for the city of Helsinki that includes an end to coal burning by 2028, no fossil fuel burning beyond 2035 and a reduction of biomass use to 50% of demand by 2024. This solution, based on both proven and innovative solutions, envisages a combination of seawater heat pumps, solar thermal, electric boilers and large-scale thermal storage to provide district heating in a sustainable and efficient manner. This mixed plant portfolio of mature technologies further increases the reliability of the system. Furthermore, optimisation and digitalisation measures help to operate the overall system more efficiently and provide flexibility in both operation and planning. This plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 78%, in line with the Helsinki targets. Implementing the plan over the next 15 years will increase local value creation and create local jobs.
This solution was only possible thanks to the good and close cooperation of competent industrial partners such as ENGIE and the innovativeness and technical expertise of research partners such as AEE INTEC, which is also a member of EUREC. Ingo Leusbrock, Head of Cities & Grids at AEE INTEC, says: “The collaboration in HIVE for the Helsinki Energy Challenge was an exciting challenge for us, where we had to cover all facets of decarbonisation in a city, addressing both innovation and cost-effectiveness. Our team was an excellent combination of individuals and organisations with extensive experience in the energy sector and in developing complex district heating and cooling projects and was instrumental in this success. With our experience and expertise in innovative district heating, we were able to make an important contribution to a truly successful overall idea. We are very much looking forward to seeing how Helsinki puts into practice a combination of HIVE’s master plan and the plans of the other winners. We would be happy to continue the journey with the city by participating in its implementation.”
The Helsinki Energy Challenge was worth a total of €1 million, with the prize sum for 1st place for the HIVE consortium being €350,000. In the coming weeks and months, the HIVE consortium will discuss implementing the proposed measures together with the city of Helsinki and the local energy provider and push these ideas further.
AEE – Institute for Sustainable Technologies (AEE INTEC)
Dr. Ingo Leusbrock
A-8200 Gleisdorf, Feldgasse 19
Tel.: +43 (0)3112 5886-261
Mobil: +43 (0)664 1012851