Helsinki Energy Challenge – decarbonising the Finnish Capital City

Jakub Ładyński

EIT InnoEnergy, together with a consortium of five innovative European companies, including ConnectPoint and Savosolar, Heliac, Ecovat, HeatVentors, participated in the Helsinki Energy Challenge. Out of 250 applications, 10 finalists were selected, including our team.

The aim of the Helsinki Energy Challenge, initiated by the City of Helsinki, Finland, was to find new solutions to achieve the goal of decarbonising heating in the city by 2030. The competition challenge was to propose a feasible plan to allow the city to abandon coal heating by 2029 and achieve CO2 neutrality by 2035.

Our team developed an innovative, sustainable and scalable concept combining five technological solutions that will enable the city of Helsinki to reduce carbon emissions from district heating by an impressive 78% by 2030 compared to current levels.

The proposed solution optimally combines the use of solar heat from Savosolar flat plate collector technology, and Heliac concentrated solar heat technology in multiple scalable solar power plants. Each modular plant can produce over 1,000 GWh of carbon-free renewable energy. Using Ecovat’s large-scale storage, up to 33% of the total solar heat collected during the year can be stored, allowing the system to operate year-round. Additional decentralised heat storage provided by HeatVentors adds daily flexibility to the system and reduces peak demand, achieving an annual cumulative energy demand reduction of up to 8.9%. ConnectPoint’s real-time smart district heating platform enables intelligent and remote management of Helsinki’s district heating network while engaging residents through gamification.

Our solution is modular and therefore easily scalable. The city can increase its capacity by adding more solar power plants to the network.

Diego Martinez, Product Manager, was part of the ConnectPoint team working on the solution.

“Participating in the Helsinki Challenge was a fantastic opportunity! We joined forces with other innovative startups to build a world-class solution for decarbonising district heating networks. By participating in the challenge, I was introduced to the latest heat production and storage technologies. I learned from other experts on my team and picked up some ideas to improve our products. It was great to see all the companies involved brainstorming and finding synergies to deliver the final solution. It was an intense process, but we had a lot of fun and learned a lot.”

You can read more about the project and other team members on the InnoEnergy blog: https://www.innoenergy.com/news-events/eit-innoenergy-with-a-consortium-of-five-european-companies-are-finalists-of-the-helsinki-energy-challenge/ and on the Helsinki Energy Challenge website: https://energychallenge.hel.fi/sustainable-heat-coalition .