Helsinki aims for earlier carbon neutrality goal

The Finnish capital of Helsinki is aiming to go carbon neutral by 2035, with combined heat and power (CHP) one component in meeting that target.

The Helsinki energy company Helen’s combined district heat and power process is half fuelled by coal and one-third fuelled by natural gas. Helen envisions that the path from fossil fuels to carbon-neutral energy production will go via an interim stage of a biobased economy.
Meanwhile Katri Vala heat pump plant generates district heat by recovering heat from purified sewage water and from district cooling water after it has been heated in the cooling process. Helen will complement Katri Vala with a second heat pump plant in 2018. Helen has also pioneered data centers where the heat produced by servers is recovered and used as district heat.

Helsinki City Council voted unanimously on September 27, 2017, to pass a proposal for a new city strategy including the goal to render Helsinki carbon neutral by 2035. The vote accelerated the achievement of carbon neutrality in Helsinki by 15 years from the earlier target set for 2050.

In his address presenting the strategy proposal to the City Council, Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori declared that Helsinki should assume a globally pioneering role in the biggest challenges of our times including climate change. “Helsinki should be a forerunner in finding local solutions for climate action,” he said.

“Helsinki’s new climate goals mean that we will have to start applying totally new measures to cut emissions compared with those undertaken up until now,” says Helsinki climate expert Jari Viinanen, pointing out that the current measures enable Helsinki to far exceed its target for 2020 to cut emissions by 30% and would have enabled an up to 50% cut by 2030.

Helsinki envisions to make the biggest strides toward 2030 in the transportation sector, reducing emissions by 55% with the help of sharp increases in electric vehicles and biofuels.

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