Governor of the State of Washington: capture and use of waste heat is poetry in energy

Internationally, district heating has been a well-kept secret that is now attracting growing interest. A delegation headed by Jay Inslee, Governor of the State of Washington, visited the Suomenoja power plant in Espoo, Finland, in September 2022.

Governor of the Washington State and Microsoft representatives at Suomenoja, Espoo power plant

Pictured from left: Jay Inslee, Governor of the State of Washington, Patrik Öhlund, Director, Energy Markets (EMEA region), Microsoft, Timo Piispa, VP Heating and Cooling, Fortum, and Noelle Walsh, Corporate VP, Microsoft

The delegation focused on emission-free waste heat and how it can be used to decarbonize heat production. The Suomenoja site hosts, among other things, a heat pump plant that plays a notable role in achieving carbon-neutral district heating in the Espoo, Kauniainen and Kirkkonummi regions by 2030 by recovering waste heat from treated wastewater.

Furthermore, in a collaboration that is largest of its kind, Fortum will capture waste heat from the server cooling process of Microsoft’s large data centers to be built in the area. Noelle Walsh, Corporate VP and Patrik Öhlund, Director, Energy Markets from Microsoft joined the delegation to discuss the collaboration.

Once heat from these data centers can be used in full, altogether 60 percent of all the district heat in the area will be recovered from various processes instead of being wasted.

The Governor was highly interested in the waste heat solutions and wanted to know more about, for example, the heat pump technology, the flexibility offered to the electricity market by the district heating network and thermal batteries, and the cost-effectiveness of building new district heating networks.

“The Suomenoja power plant demonstrates how innovation can help to mitigate climate change. To not waste heat, and to be able to use waste sewage for heat is such an elegant solution. To me, capturing and using waste heat is like poetry in energy, making use of what would otherwise be lost,” said Governor Inslee, co-writer of the 2007 book Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy.

“There is potential for waste heat recycling and distributed energy systems in the US. Obviously, the distribution system is easier to build when developing it alongside the communities it would serve, but in the State of Washington, we are examining the potential in dense urban areas where district heating is most efficient,” Governor Inslee said.

“District heating offers great potential to reduce emissions and increase energy self-sufficiency. It is particularly attractive in countries that have in the past largely relied on gas and are now looking to decarbonize heating. Cities such as London and Dublin are developing local district heating solutions to deliver low-carbon heat to homes, public buildings and businesses”, said Timo Piispa, VP, Heating and Cooling at Fortum.

The delegation of around 20 guests, including representatives from Alaska Airlines, the Department of Commerce and the Port of Seattle, the University of Washington and Washington State University, was travelling to Nordic countries for a trade mission.

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Timo Piispa

VP, Heating and Cooling Finland
timo [dot] piispa [at] fortum [dot] com

Ilkka Toijala

Director, Industrial Heat Recovery, Heating and Cooling Finland
ilkka [dot] toijala [at] fortum [dot] com