In a drastic turn to eliminate coal as the main source of district heating, the City of Helsinki has kicked off the Helsinki Energy Challenge – a global 1 million Euro competition to create the future of urban heating. Several cities have created ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions. The City of Helsinki will be taking it one step further by declaring that it will not rely on fossil fuel or biomass-fired heating, making the city’s energy production not just fossil free, but truly sustainable.
by: Silicon Luxembourg
photo: Yiping Feng and Ling Ouyang
featured: Helsinki is the capital of Finland. Population 648 042, metropolitan area 1.2 million.A functional and unique seaside city with strong emphasis to sustainability, tech, design and nature.
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Helsinki searches for sustainable city heating solutions
With the aim of becoming carbon-neutral by 2035, Helsinki is strongly commited to the decarbonisation of its cities. In line with its commitment, Helsinki’s Mayor Mr. Jan Vapaavuori is taking radical steps in urging innovators from around the world to propose game-changing solutions for the future of urban heating. “Solving the urban heating challenge is crucial to reaching global climate goals. Cities have a key role to play in the transition to a low carbon economy and Helsinki hopes to pave the way. “We invite innovators from all around the world to use our city as a test bed to develop not just fossil free, but truly sustainable solutions. Together, we will create the future of heating to fight global warming,” says Mayor of Helsinki, Mr. Jan Vapaavuori.
“With over half of the city’s heat originating from coal, we hope that our shift to sustainable energy can help inspire other cities to transition.”
The goal of the challenge is to find solutions that can be implemented in Helsinki by 2029 and potentially contribute to decarbonising city heating around the world. The City of Helsinki is committed to openly sharing the solutions gathered from the challenge. Cities such as Toronto, Amsterdam, Vancouver, and Leeds and organisations like the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council and C40 City Solutions Platform are already supporting the initiative.
“Climate change is a global crisis that will not be solved by quick fixes. With over half of the city’s heat originating from coal, we hope that our shift to sustainable energy can help inspire other cities to transition. Taking this next step might lead to a revolutionary breakthrough in our pursuit for a more sustainable city life.” says Mr. Vapaavuori.
The scope of Helsinki’s heating system allows for a range of solutions but the ideal combination of solutions is yet to be discovered. The winning proposal could just as well include technological and business model innovations, along with system-level transformation. Proposed solutions will be evaluated based on climate impact, impact on natural resources, cost, implementation schedule, feasibility, reliability, security of supply, and capacity.
“We invite innovators from all around the world to use our city as a test bed to develop not just fossil free, but truly sustainable solutions.”
About the Helsinki Energy Challenge
The Helsinki Energy Challenge is a global competition for anyone who can propose a sustainable heating solution for Helsinki. This includes consortiums, startups, SMEs, research institutions, universities, research groups and individual experts. The only requirement is that participants should join the competition as a team.
The challenge is open for submissions from February 27, 2020 until May 31, 2020. By early July, finalists will be invited to a co-creation phase, which includes a 3-day boot camp. In this boot camp, participants will be given the support to develop their proposals after which the idea will be presented to an international jury of experts. The winning solution(s) will be presented in November and awarded with 1 million Euros.
Read more about Helsinki Energy Challenge here: www.energychallenge.hel.fi