Helsinki region provides a solid basis for a cleantech metropolis
Helsingin Energia’s CEO Pekka Manninen believes that Finnish energy expertise is in high demand on the international market. Operators in the energy sector come to Helsinki to learn about, e.g. cogeneration, district cooling, and utilisation of waste energies as energy sources. Pekka Manninen is taking part in the panel discussion on the cleantech future of the Helsinki region, held in Sanomatalo.
Finland regularly tops the international energy comparisons: combined heat and power generation in particular is seen as a success factor. In its latest country report, IEA highlighted the energy solution used in Helsinki.
- In Finland and in Helsinki, we can be particularly proud of our extremely energy-efficient combined heat and power (CHP) generation, which is regarded in Europe and elsewhere in the world as the most effective way of producing energy. We have also included district cooling in the same entity, enabling the utilisation of waste energies from properties as district heat. For example, this summer we were able to recover the amount of energy that would otherwise require 22 hectares of solar collectors, says Pekka Manninen.
Helsingin Energia uses over ten different energy sources and production methods in energy production, which is distributed throughout the city. The CHP plants use natural gas and coal, as well as wood pellets from later on this year. The energy sources we utilise include water, wind, the sun, the heat of waste water, and cold sea water.
Solar power plant project under way
Helsingin Energia has launched the construction of a solar power plant in Suvilahti in Helsinki. At the same time, a new method of acquiring solar energy will be launched on the market: for a monthly fee, customers can obtain the output of a designated panel for themselves.
- We aim to build more solar power plants at a fairly rapid pace, in keeping with demand. We will start selling shares in just over a week, and we are delighted to say that advance demand has been high, says Manninen.
What is a suitable location for wind farms?
As one of the owners of Suomen Hyötytuuli, Helsingin Energia is involved in several wind power projects in various parts of Finland. Suomen Merituuli Oy has two major offshore wind power projects pending. These have encountered, e.g. planning and radar problems.
- We want to increase wind power production, but at the moment it looks very challenging to find locations where its implementation would be possible. We have openly requested proposals and are happy to continue receiving them. Local wind power production would certainly bolster the capital region’s image as a cleantech metropolis.
Hundreds of millions invested in bioenergy
At the end of the year, Helsingin Energia will start wood pellet combustion at the Salmisaari coal-fired power plant. Increasing the use of bioenergy is part of Helsingin Energia’s development programme towards a carbon-neutral future. As part of the development programme, Helsingin Energia is investing several hundreds of millions of euros to replace coal with biofuels. The main alternatives under preparation are the construction of a new multifuel power plant in Vuosaari, using wood chips as its main fuel, or increasing the share of pellets in existing coal-fired power plants.
Energy efficiency is the best way to reduce emissions
Pekka Manninen points out that the most important, most efficient and quickest way to reduce emissions is to increase energy efficiency in all sectors of society. The amount of energy saved by Helsingin Energia’s cogeneration corresponds to the annual consumption of 500,000 one-family houses. In Europe, it is still the most common practice to release the heat produced in electricity generation into the sea or air.
- For our part, efficiency in energy production is extremely advanced. We invest a great deal in energy advisory services for our customers, and we also develop home automation solutions to optimise energy use – we are making it very easy to save energy. We already store cold and thermal energy, but we also need increasingly advanced solutions for electricity storage.
Helsingin Energia is involved in the building of a cleantech metropolis
According to Pekka Manninen, Helsinki is already well on its way towards a cleantech future.
- Climate change is so significant that it will not be solved with any individual means. We need improved energy efficiency and new solutions for the production and use of energy. We have the expertise, and I'm sure it is in high demand in Europe. We can gain commercial benefits from it while promoting a solution for our common climate challenge.