Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has granted investment aid for Helen’s new heat pump plant in Eiranranta
Helen is building a new heat pump plant in South Helsinki to produce carbon-neutral district heat and district cooling from the waste energy of purified waste water. In the highly efficient plant, heat is produced from water with exceptionally low temperature. This water has already previously been utilised in district heat production in the Katri Vala heating and cooling plant. The total value of the investment is about EUR 100 million, and it has been granted about EUR 14.5 million of energy investment aid by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.
The Eiranranta heat pump plant will reduce over 80,000 tonnes of Helen’s carbon dioxide emissions per year as it will replace production based on the burning of fossil fuels in the winter season and produce district cooling in the summer. At the same time, the plant will increase the security of supply for Helsinki residents by reducing dependence on imported fossil natural gas.
“The Eiranranta heat pump plant is an innovative solution to enable carbon-neutral energy production. The investment will reduce the use of fossil fuels such as natural gas, which is a prerequisite for achieving carbon neutrality and later also carbon negativity,” says Juhani Aaltonen, Head of Sustainable Energy Solutions at Helen.
The new heat pumps enable energy-efficient production of heat and cooling in the same process so that the waste heat of cooling and waste water can be utilised in the production of district heat. The district heat output of the heat pumps is about 90 megawatts and district cooling output about 60 megawatts. The plant will increase the amount of Helen’s renewable heat production by about 300 gigawatt-hours per year.
In addition to heat pumps, an electric boiler will be built to support the waste water process and district heating system. This enables heating of waste water in moments when it is too cool for heat pump production. The output of the electric boiler is 30 megawatts.
“The experience gained from the new plant with regard to the utilisation of low-temperature waste heats will play a big role in the production of carbon-neutral energy in Finland and elsewhere in Europe in the future. The plant can be duplicated anywhere where there is waste heat available and the opportunity to connect to the district heating network,” Aaltonen points out.
The investment aims to increase not only renewable district heat production, but also the production output of district cooling in order to meet the growing demand for cooling. Demand for district cooling in Helsinki is rising and, thanks to the new plant, cooling can be produced in a carbon-neutral way close to its demand.
The purified waste water used by the Eiranranta heat pump plant is already utilised in two processes: in Helen’s Katri Vala heating and cooling plant, from where it is returned to the waste water tunnel at a temperature of about five degrees at its lowest. This waste water still contains potential heat energy that can be utilised in district heat production with the aid of the modern heat pump technology to be used in the new plant. After recovering the remaining heat energy, the purified waste water is returned to the sea. Due to the process, the thermal load to the Baltic Sea will be reduced when the water conducted into the sea is even cooler than before.
After completion, the underground production plant will not cause any disturbance to the local residents as it will enable discreet production of district heat and cooling energy in the city centre. The excavation work will start according to schedule in early 2023, and the plant is estimated to be completed at the end of 2025.