Carbon neutral district heating in Espoo in the 2020sEspoo Clean Heat
Espoo Clean Heat
What is district heating? Simply put, it is a local system for cities that transfers energy in heated water from energy sources to heat users in a network of underground pipes. It is the only system that can recycle heat energy from numerous distributed sources to thousands of buildings under one optimised infrastructure.
In Finland, Fortum's next generation district heating is replacing fossil fuels with smart and flexible solutions that are largely based on renewable electricity: waste heat utilisation, heat pumps and electric boilers. Approximately 40 percent of district heating demand in the region will be met by recycling waste heat from Microsoft's new data centers. Artificial intelligence will optimise the operations of the entire system.
Fortum and the City of Espoo have committed to this transformation journey that will result in carbon-neutral district heating during the 2020s in the Espoo, Kauniainen and Kirkkonummi regions. A major step towards carbon neutrality will be taken in 2025 when the use of coal will be discontinued.
This project for carbon-neutrality is called Espoo Clean Heat. It provides a flagship example of efficient decarbonization and transition to local self-sufficient heating on a large scale.
Examples of clean energy projects
mid-2020's (est): Recycling waste heat from Microsoft's data centers
A growing number of data centers is needed to accommodate the increasing global digitalization. Therefore, it makes sense to build big data centers in city locations where waste heat from servers can be recycled to district heating networks. This decarbonizes heating on a large scale, creating substantial climate benefits and stable heating prices.
2022: AI-driven smart steering to reduce emissions
Demand side response (DSR), or smart control of district heating, optimises both the heat production and the heating of buildings at differing intervals so that heat can be allocated to where it is most needed at a given time. With demand side response, the use of back-up heat plants can be reduced, resulting in lower emissions.
2020-2028 (est): Industrial-scale air-to-water heat pumps
The technology that is used in air-to-water heat pumps at homes has been developed to an industrial scale in several of our pioneering projects. Within a few years, these plants will produce a significant part of the Espoo area's district heating. At the same time, they create cooling for regional needs.
2021: A third heat pump unit to recover heat from waste water
A 25-megawatt unit, the largest in Finland, was built in the Suomenoja, Espoo heat pump plant in 2021. As with the already existing two units, the latest heat pump recovers excess heat from treated wastewater, as well as from seawater in the summer. The plant covers approximately 20% of the demand in the district heating network area.
2020: A bio-heating facility in Kivenlahti
A biomass-fired 49-megawatt heating plant was commissioned in 2020 on the Kivenlahti, Espoo site where two wood pellet boilers were already producing district heat. The new facility replaced one of the last two remaining coal-fired units in the Suomenoja power plant and increased the share of carbon-neutral district heating in Espoo to 40%.
Share of carbon neutral district heating in Espoo (forecast)
Read more about district heating
VP, Heating and Cooling Finland
timo [dot] piispa [at] fortum [dot] com
Manager, Strategic Projects
Heating and Cooling Finland
heikki [dot] keskivali [at] fortum [dot] com