Helen continues to invest in carbon neutrality: one of the world’s largest heat pumps planned for Helsinki, enabling faster reduction in the use of coal
Helen is expanding the heating and cooling plant located under the Katri Vala Park in Sörnäinen with a new heat pump, the seventh in all. The investment is the first to replace coal use in the Salmisaari power plant: the output of the new heat pump corresponds to more than 10 per cent of the thermal capacity of Salmisaari.
The Katri Vala plant utilises the excess heat of purified waste water in heat production. The efficiency of heat recovery at the plant is currently being improved, which will enable a higher degree of utilising excess heat, as well as the use of new, large heat pumps. A new, sixth heat pump is currently under construction at the plant, and a decision has now been made to add a seventh heat pump, which is to be among the largest in the world. The investment enables heat production in Helsinki in a carbon neutral way throughout the summer season.
“The objective is to have the new, seventh heat pump in production use already in 2023. This means that we can bring forward the reduction of coal use also at the Salmisaari power plant. In terms of Hanasaari, the decisions were already made: its heat production will be replaced with a bioenergy heating plant to be built in Vuosaari, heat pumps, energy storage and heat trade with Vantaa Energy. Helen is now even closer to its carbon neutrality target,” says Juha-Pekka Weckström, Helen’s new CEO who took over the position in early April.
The need for district cooling in Helsinki is growing further as a result of new customers. Thanks to the new heat pump, it is now possible to also increase cooling production.
World’s largest heat pump
Helen aims for carbon neutrality by year 2035. The heat pumps play a key role in achieving the carbon neutrality target, and Helen has invested strongly in the recycling of waste and excess heat. The heating and cooling plant located under the Esplanade Park was commissioned in 2018, and we are currently building a new seawater heat pump in Vuosaari, to be in production use in 2022.
The Katri Vala heating and cooling plant was Helen’s first heat pump investment in 2006. Space reservations have been made in underground caverns for expansion, enabling further construction of heat pumps.
“Helen’s heat pumps are traditionally large, but this new heat pump investment will beat all records. In terms of its output category, the heat pump is reportedly the largest in the world, producing district heat and district cooling from purified waste water,” describes Project Manager Mikko Kaartinen.
Coal is phased out sooner
The Hanasaari power plant is planned to be transferred for reserve use in the heating season of 2022–2023 when the bioenergy heating plant in Vuosaari is completed. Hanasaari will be closed by the end of 2024. In addition to the bioenergy heating plant, its heat production will be replaced with heat recycling with heat pumps, with energy storage, and heat trade with Vantaa Energy.
Salmisaari will remain an energy production area, and the target is to replace coal by 2029 at the latest with a solution that is not based on combustion. The new heat pump investment is the first step in replacing coal in Salmisaari, and it will enable the phasing out of coal use at a faster pace than originally planned. Several studies on replacing the coal in Salmisaari are still underway, for example, using geothermal heat, the heat of sea water, and the utilisation of excess heat from the Kilpilahti industrial area in Porvoo in the heating of the entire Helsinki region.
New heat pump investment
- The objective is to have the new, seventh heat pump in the Katri Vala heating and cooling plant in production use already in 2023.
- The district heat output of the heat pump is 32 MW and cooling output 21.5 MW.
- The investment will raise the thermal output of the Katri Vala heating and cooling plant to a total of 155 MW and cooling output to a total of 103.5 MW.
- The size of the heat pump: length 22.5 metres, height 7 metres and width 11 metres. The heat pump is one of the largest in the world.
- Utilising an existing underground space, which will be expanded as necessary.
Katri Vala heating and cooling plant
- World’s largest heating and cooling plant producing district heat and district cooling in the same process.
- Located in a rock cavern excavated under the Katri Vala Park in the district of Sörnäinen in Helsinki.
- Helen’s first heat pump investment: in production use since 2006.
- Current output of the plant: heat 123 MW, cooling 82 MW, after the investment: heat 155 MW, cooling 103.5 MW.