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Helen opens district heat network to acquire surplus heat from its clients

In Finland, Helsinki energy utility Helen Oy says that it wants to buy surplus heat from companies and properties. Open district heat increases diversity in heat procurement and promotes circular economy and climate-neutral energy production.

The 420 MWth/220MWe Hanasaari coal-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant in downtown Helsinki power plant started to co-fire wood pellets at the end of 2015. Commissioned in 1974, the plant will be closed by the end of 2024 and the site repurposed as a residential/recreational area.

Helen’s 420 MWth/220MWe Hanasaari coal-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant in downtown Helsinki started to co-fire wood pellets at the end of 2015. Commissioned in 1974, the plant will be closed by the end of 2024 and the site repurposed as a residential/recreational area. The company is opening its district heat network to clients to two-way heat trading so excess heat can be utilised by the network more efficiently.

According to the company, in an open district heat network, the heat network is utilised in a more diverse and efficient way. The two-way heat trade is meant for properties, companies and residential buildings, which use Helen’s district heat network and the operation of which generates heat that is suitable as such for use in the district heating network.

Trading possibilities are established in each case separately.For example, industrial processes may produce directly utilisable heat with a sufficiently high temperature. On the other hand, real estate companies and housing co-operatives may have low-temperature heat that requires a temperature increase before it can be utilised in the district heating network.

When the customer sells their surplus heat to Helen, they will also improve the cost-effectiveness of their energy efficiency measures, take part in emission-free heating in Helsinki and contribute to the promotion of climate neutrality. Helen wants to make as efficient use of the existing district heating network as possible. By utilising surplus heat, we can reduce the use of fossil fuels and improve the energy-efficiency of our energy system, explained Marko Riipinen, Director, Helen.

The pricing of heat purchased by Helen is “transparent and even-handed” to all producers and changes according to the time of the year, availability and demand. In short, Helen’s heat purchase concept entails:

  • Open district heat means a two-way heat market where customers can buy district heat and sell the heat they have produced to an energy company.
  • Helen buys heat from sites, which produce heat that is suitable for utilisation as such in the district heating network. The temperature of district heat water varies between +80 and +115 ºC according to the time of year.
  • Heat generated in an ordinary residential building can be utilised by Helen when the property is using its own heat production equipment, such as heat pumps, which can be used for processing the heat for utilisation in the district heating network.
  • Helen pays for the heat it buys according to a public pricing model. The purchase price of heat varies according to the different pricing seasons of the year. It is impacted by the district heat production costs and the demand for district heat at any given time.

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