Helsinki to close the Hanasaari power plant almost two years ahead of schedule – coal store to be removed from the streetscape
The Hanasaari coal-fired power plant will cease operations by 1 April 2023. The decision has a significant impact on the carbon footprint of Helsinki and the entire country.
“Coal burning in Hanasaari in Helsinki will come to an end almost two years ahead of the original plan, which will have significant positive climate impacts. The Hanasaari power plant is the third-largest source of industrial emissions in Finland, accounting for two per cent of total emissions of our country. The total emissions of Helsinki will fall by about 20 per cent as a result of the decision,” says Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.
The decision to bring forward the closing of Hanasaari is economically viable for Helen, for example, due to the increased price of emission allowances. According to the original plan, the closing of the Hanasaari power plant would have taken place at the end of 2024. In accordance with the new schedule, the Hanasaari power plant will be transferred for reserve use in the heating season of 2022–2023 when the bioenergy heating plant to be constructed in Vuosaari starts production. After that, the Hanasaari power plant will be closed down permanently.
In this first phase, the production of Hanasaari will be replaced with heat pumps, heat storage, biomass, and heat trade.
“It is possible to close the power plant earlier than planned because over the past few years we have done a lot of work and made significant investments in the production of renewable and emission-free heat and power production. Helen has been a forerunner of new energy solutions throughout its history, and this decision is also a strong indicator of it. Helen has the expertise and the will to have an impact on the energy transition and to find solutions for the mitigation of climate change. We have reserved a total of one billion euros for carbon-neutral investments, and one-third of the investment decisions have already been made,” says Helen’s CEO Juha-Pekka Weckström.
As a result of the decision to bring forward the closing of the plant, the Hanasaari coal store will disappear from the streetscape and the area will be released in stages for the use of Helsinki residents.
“In future, the released areas will form a new focal point for the eastern part of the city centre. As a result of the removal of power plant operations and the coal heap, unique urban space and shore areas will be freed for services, operations and leisure-time facilities for a vibrant everyday urban life for Helsinki residents. The Hanasaari area also has a great connection with the Suvilahti and Teurastamo areas and, together, they will have a huge potential to develop into a new urban cultural district,” the Mayor, Mr Vapaavuori envisages.
Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035
The City of Helsinki and Helen have committed to carbon neutrality by year 2035. This target will be achieved in stages.
The City Council decided on closing the Hanasaari power plant already in December 2015, at which time the preparations were launched. Since then, Helen’s employees and organisation have been adapting to the changes in energy production, and these measures still continue. After the Hanasaari power plant has been closed down and its production has ceased, Helen will phase out the use of coal in full by 2029 at the latest, by which time coal burning will also come to an end in the Salmisaari power plant.
Alternative energy solutions of the future have also been sought with new and innovative methods. The City of Helsinki requested sustainable solutions for the heating of Helsinki from energy experts from throughout the world in the Helsinki Energy Challenge competition. The objective of solutions sought with the challenge competition is to completely phase out combustion-based energy production in the next few years, for example, with alternative solutions in Salmisaari.