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Helen planning new biomass heat plants in Helsinki

Finland-based energy utility Helen Oy has revealed that it is planning to build new biomass-fired heating plants in the Finnish capital, Helsinki. The new plants are planned to be located in Vuosaari, Patola and Tattarisuo and will replace the use of coal while ensuring sufficient district heat supplies.

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.

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.

According to a statement, the planned heating plants will generate renewable district heat and replace coal in district heat production. The heating plants will use biomass fuels, such as pellets and forest chips, procured from sustainable sources.

In the planning of urban space, it is worth taking into account that distributed heat production needs much more space than centralised energy production based on fossil fuels. In addition to these, we will also need new locations for energy production, and we are expecting the City of Helsinki to allocate plots suitable for energy production for our use, said Maiju Westergren, Vice-President, Sustainability and Public Affairs at Helen.

Climate-neutral energy goal

The company is striving towards climate-neutral energy production and the new heating plants will be implemented in stages to be able to replace the heat production of the coal-fired Hanasaari combined heat and power (CHP) plant, which will be decommissioned in 2024. At the same time, the company is currently investing in renewable, more distributed city energy, and the biomass heating plants are part of this major investment programme.

The sites in Vuosaari and Patola are already used for energy production and have been utilised in the planning of the new heating plants. In addition, new areas in different parts of the city are also needed to ensure uninterrupted heat production, one potential area being the Tattarisuo district.

The process of applying for environmental permits for the plants has been launched, and the environmental impact assessment on the Tattarisuo district will start soon.

At the end of 2017, a new pellet-fired heating plant was completed in Salmisaari, and it is currently in commissioning phase. The 100 MW plant can produce heat to 25 000 one-bedroom apartments, or a town the size of Savonlinna. The recovery of waste heat will also be enhanced and increased as soon as the new heating and cooling plant in Esplanadi is put into operation in spring 2018.

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