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Deep heat and biomass – an Espoo clean heat story

In Finland, the City of Espoo has set a target to make Espoo completely carbon neutral by 2030. This target includes decarbonizing the city’s district heating network operated by energy utility major Fortum Oyj by smart and flexible solutions such as deep heat and biomass.

In Finland, the City of Espoo has set a target to make Espoo completely carbon neutral by 2030. This target includes decarbonizing the city’s district heating network operated by energy utility major Fortum by smart and flexible solutions such as deep heat and biomass while phasing out the last coal in the two coal-fired units at Fortum’s Suomenoja combined heat and power (CHP) plant by 2025 (photo courtesy Fortum).

In 2018, Fortum and the City of Espoo agreed to fast-track carbon-neutral district heating in the Espoo, Kauniainen, and Kirkkonummi regions with a new intermediate goal – double the share of carbon-neutral district heating to 50 percent by 2022 and phase out the last coal in the two coal-fired units at Fortum’s Suomenoja combined heat and power (CHP) plant by 2025.

Fortum’s decision to discontinue the use of coal and make district heating carbon-neutral is the most significant climate action in Espoo, said Jukka Mäkelä, Mayor of the City of Espoo back in October 2018 when the announcement was made.

Espoo Clean Heat

The new generation of district heating is based on replacing fossil fuels with smart and flexible solutions, such as by utilizing waste heat, renewable electricity, geothermal energy, and bioenergy. Artificial intelligence (AI) optimizes the district heating system’s operations.

Espoo Clean Heat, as the new accelerated district heat decarbonization project is called, already sees several parallel projects ongoing to replace the two coal-fired units at Suomenoja.

Espoo Clean Heat is an accelerated district heat decarbonization project that sees several parallel projects ongoing to replace the two coal-fired units at Fortum’s Suomenoja combined heat and power (CHP) plant (graphic courtesy Espoo Clean Heat).

A new 20 MW heat pump unit utilizing heat from wastewater treatment, and seawater during the summer, will start operations at the Suomenoja plant in 2021. This represents about 5 percent of the network’s heat demand.

Finland’s first industrial-scale geothermal plant is being developed by energy and transportation fuel supplier St1 Oy. Nearing completion, the St1 Deep Heat project is located at Fortum’s Otaniemi heat plant in Espoo.

Once operational in early 2021, the heat production from the 40 MW geothermal unit will be fed via heat exchangers into the heat network to cover around 10 percent of heat demand.

A pilot plant, it is said to have the world’s two deepest geothermal wells – around 6.5 km in depth (!) – requiring adapted drilling technologies and, as St1 puts it “persistence” to penetrate the granite bedrock.

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