SOURCE: City of Helsinki

City of Helsinki

June 30, 2016 10:41 ET

Helsinki Expands Smart Eco-Friendly District Cooling

Heat Pumps Recycle Energy, Using Excess Heat Recovered From Properties by District Cooling to Produce Domestic Hot Water

HELSINKI, FINLAND--(Marketwired - June 30, 2016) - The Finnish capital's energy company Helen develops and operates Europe's third largest and fastest growing district cooling network. As part of its investment program, Helen has announced the company's second large-scale heat pump plant. The new plant will go into operation in early 2018.

Helsinki's heat pump-based energy system uses hardly any fossil fuels to generate both district heating and cooling from excess heat recovered from properties and from purified sewage water in a combined heating and cooling (CHC) process. District heating and cooling are based on hot and cold water circulating in the network.

The heart of Helsinki's CHC system today is the Katri Vala underground heat pump plant. The plant receives the return water from the district cooling network and the flow of Helsinki's purified sewage water; recovers the heat from the waters; and feeds the heat into the district heating network to heat domestic water.

The Katri Vala heat pump plant produces 90 MW of district heating and 60 MW of district cooling. This is enough to meet the summer-time heat energy needs of 250,000 Helsinki residents and the cooling needs of 100 large commercial properties.

Using excess heat produced in properties by solar radiation, the Katri Vala plant utilizes solar energy. If the energy produced by the plant were generated with solar collectors, the area required for the collectors would be 20 acres. The carbon dioxide emissions are 80 percent lower compared with the same amount of energy produced with fossil fuels.

The Katri Vala heat pump plant re-cools the district cooling water from 61-64°F to 39°F (16-18°C to 4°C) by absorbing heat from the water; uses the heat to raise the temperature of the district heating water from 113°F to 190°F (45°C to 88°C); and pumps the waters back into circulation.

The district cooling generation by heat pumps is aided by cold water stored in underground reservoirs. The new heat pump plant will be placed next to the largest reservoir, which is a cave in the Helsinki bedrock storing 6.6 million gallons of freshwater underneath the downtown Esplanade Park. The water, kept by the bedrock at 45°F (7°C), is used for cooling during peak demand. The new plant will recover the heat from water returning to the reservoir.

With the new heat pump plant, the cooling capacity of the Esplanade complex will be 50 MW.

Helen has been building the district cooling system systematically since the early 2000's based on the latest technological solutions supporting Helen's goal to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Helen is fully owned by the City of Helsinki.

Helsinki's smart city energy system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVgOLyeEK90

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