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 decarbonizing its district heating network in a sustainable way. On Tuesday, March 16, an international jury selected four winners, including as first-place winners out of 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 from NEWHEAT (FRA) and PLANENERGI (DK), and 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 in biomass use to 50% of demand by 2024. This solution, based on both proven and innovative solutions, envisions 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, optimization and digitalization 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 Helsinki targets. Implementing the plan over the next 15 years will increase local value 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 ACR (Austrian Research Cooperation). Ingo Leusbrock, Head of the research department Cities & Networks at AEE INTEC, said: "The collaboration in HIVE for the Helsinki Energy Challenge was an exciting challenge for us, where we had to cover all facets of decarbonization in a city, addressing both innovation and cost-effectiveness. Our team was an excellent combination of individuals and organizations 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 award winners. We would be happy to continue the journey with the city by participating in its implementation."
The Helsinki Energy Challenge was endowed with a total of 1 million euros, and the prize amount for 1st place for the HIVE consortium is 350000 euros. In the coming weeks and months, the HIVE consortium will work with the city of Helsinki and the local energy provider to discuss implementation of the proposed measures and take these ideas forward.
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