SOURCE: City of Helsinki

City of Helsinki

April 28, 2016 13:07 ET

Helsinki Builds Solar Power by Leasing Panels to Consumers

Energy Company Helen Uses Crowdfunding to Finance Finland's Largest Solar Power Plants

HELSINKI, FINLAND --(Marketwired - April 28, 2016) - Finland's largest solar power plant to date, located in Kivikko, Helsinki, opened in mid-April, increasing the country's solar power production by 10 percent. The plant owner and operator, Helsinki energy company Helen, finances the investment and operation by leasing the plant's solar photovoltaic panels to the company's electricity customers.

Within two weeks of the Kivikko plant commissioning, more than half of the plant's solar panels had been subscribed by customers for a monthly fee of 4.40 euros each. Helen reimburses the subscribers for the electricity produced by the panels on their electricity bills. The subscribers can monitor the panels' electricity output online and compare it with their own electricity consumption.

One Helen customer can lease up to 10 panels. Each solar panel produces approximately 230 kWh of electricity per year, which corresponds to 11 percent of the average electricity consumption of a one-bedroom apartment in Finland, so 10 panels would well meet an apartment's annual electricity consumption. Helen's concept allows private individuals for the first time to produce solar power without investing in their own generation systems.

Helen initiated the concept of leasing solar panels to consumers at the company's Suvilahti solar power plant in Helsinki, which was Finland's largest solar power plant at the time of commissioning in March 2015. The Suvilahti plant's solar panels were leased out in a matter of days.

If the Kivikko experiment is also successful, Helen envisions to build more solar power based on the same concept. Solar power is one of the components of Helen's plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent with the help of renewables by year 2020 and to render the company carbon neutral by 2050.

The Kivikko and Suvilahti solar power plants comprising 4,186 285-watt panels (2,992 and 1,194 panels respectively) produce 1,000 MWh of electricity annually, which corresponds to the annual consumption of 500 one-bedroom apartments and represents 13 percent of Finland's solar power production.

The solar power potential of Finland is equal to that of northern Germany, owing to Finland's long summer days and cool average temperatures.

The solar panels of the Kivikko plant are placed on the rooftop of an indoor cross-country skiing hall owned and operated by the City of Helsinki. The panels of the Suvilahti plant are placed on the rooftop of a Helen production hall. Helen is fully owned by the City of Helsinki.

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