Carbon neutral district heating in Espoo in the 2020sEspoo Clean Heat
Espoo Clean Heat
Spearheading Clean Heat
District heating 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 way to recycle heat energy from numerous different and distributed sources to thousands of buildings under one optimized infrastructure. The heat is typically used to warm buildings and tap water.
In Finland, Fortum is showcasing a next generation district heating system. Operating since 1954, it is currently undergoing a major transformation to replace fossil fuels with smart and flexible solutions that are largely based on renewable electricity: waste heat utilization, heat pumps, heat accumulators and electric boilers. Approximately 40 percent of district heating demand will be met by recycling emission-free waste heat from Microsoft's new data centers. Artificial intelligence optimizes the operations of the entire system. The solutions are modular and can be tailored according to local heat sources, be it waste heat or air.
Fortum and the City of Espoo have committed to this transformation that will result in carbon-neutral district heating by 2030 in the Espoo, Kauniainen and Kirkkonummi regions. The use of coal will be discontinued in 2025. This project, called Espoo Clean Heat, provides a flagship example of efficient decarbonization and a transition to local self-sufficient heating on a large scale.
Examples of clean energy projects
2020's (est): Recycling waste heat from Microsoft's data centre region
A growing number of data centers is needed to accommodate the increasing global digitalization. It makes sense to locate big data centers near cities 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. In Finland, Microsoft's two large data centers will provide 40% of the consumed heat in the network area.
2023: Ireland's first low-emission district heating network
Ireland's first low-emission district heating network is in operation in Tallaght, South Dublin. It recycles waste heat from the Amazon Web Services data centre to public buildings and, in the future, also to apartments. The network is owned by Ireland’s first publicly owned, not-for-profit energy company, trading as Heatworks.
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 local 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. All three units 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%.
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.
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
General Manager, Business Development, Continental Europe
Heating and Cooling Finland
Tel: +358 400 500 216
kari [dot] ylonen [at] fortum [dot] com