This challenge is part of the City Solutions Platform Live @ BLOXHUB event as part of the C40 World Mayors’ Summit 2019 in Copenhagen on 9th October 2019.
Helsinki’s goal is to be carbon-neutral by the year 2035. Currently, about 56 % of Helsinki’s carbon dioxide emissions originate from the production of energy used for heating. In 2018, 53 % of the district heating in Helsinki was produced with coal. The decision concerning the shutdown of the other main coal-fired power plant before 2024 has already been approved and due to the government’s decision to ban energy use of coal as of 2029, the coal-based production must cease completely.
Coal is currently used to such a large extent that there are not enough heat sources not based on combustion that could entirely replace the use of coal. It has thus been planned that part of the heat produced with coal will be replaced with biomass-based production, based on combustion. The current indicative investment plan to replace coal would result in relatively high utilisation of biomass in heat generation in Helsinki. However, the use of biomass is problematic; for example its emissions are equivalent to those of coal measured at the chimney, and extensive use can have negative consequences on biodiversity. Also the logistical challenges may be considerable.
The City of Helsinki seeks innovative long-term solutions for producing emissions-free heat without biomass in Helsinki. To find solutions, there will be an international competition: how can coal be replaced in the heating of Helsinki with as much carbon-neutrality as possible and as little biomass as possible?