The energy future is in the sun

According to a study commissioned by Helen, the important key words of the energy future are the sun, energy saving and energy efficiency, utilisation of waste, as well as circular economy. It is critical for Helen and the entire energy sector what shape and form the EU’s sustainability criteria for biomass, which are under preparation this autumn, will take.

The future of bioenergy is a big issue for Helen and the entire country. Helen investigated expert views on the future of bioenergy in 2036. The most important energy forms turned out to be the same as those in the studies of the International Energy Agency IEA: solar energy and energy saving. Of the bioenergy forms, especially the by-products of forestry and agriculture, such as sawdust, wood bark and sludge, were regarded as more important than other bioenergy.

– We at Helen find both energy efficiency and solar energy particularly important, says Helen’s Director Maiju Westergren. – We are among the first companies to join the new energy efficiency agreements. We are also strongly involved in the development of solar energy with our own solar power plants in Suvilahti and Kivikko, which are among the largest in the country, as well as with new funding projects. We are also a significant member of the circular economy: we produce district heat with waste-derived biogas and waste heat from purified waste water.

Helen strives for climate-neutral energy production. Helen is reducing the use of fossil fuels, and the solution in the initial stage is to increase the utilisation of biofuels to a significant degree: indigenous pellets are burned among coal at the Hanasaari and Salmisaari combined heat and power plants. 

Replacing the heat production capacity in Hanasaari is the biggest challenge in the next few years. Finland’s largest pellet-fired boiler is already being built at Salmisaari. Helen is also making significant investments in industrial-scale heat pumps, solar energy, energy storage and client-side solutions.

– The functioning of the market is a key issue also in the energy sector. We support a free energy market and market-driven price formation, Westergren says.

The background of the 151 respondents was extensive: replies to the survey were received, e.g. from energy and bioenergy experts, researchers, officials, the media, representatives of an environmental organisation, politicians, and Helen’s partners.
Link to a summary of the survey.

Helen and renewable energy
• Indigenous pellets are burned among coal at Helen’s combined heat and power plants at Hanasaari and Salmisaari.
• A new, completely pellet-fired heating plant is under construction in Salmisaari.
• Indigenous biogas is also used in Helen’s natural gas-fired peak-load and reserve heating plants.
• At Helen’s Katri Vala plant, which is among the largest heating and cooling plants in the world, waste heat is recovered from the heat of purified waste water.
• About 13% of solar electricity connected to the Finnish grid is produced at Helen’s own solar power plants.
• Helen is Finland’s largest operator in solar heat recovery: a significant amount of waste heat is recovered with the district cooling system and transferred into the district heating network.
• Hydro power accounts for 11% of wholesale electricity procured by Helen in 2015.

Published: 15.09.2016 13:03

Seija Uusitalo
Team manager, communications