Helsinki is committed to its responsibility in curbing climate change. Helsinki’s goal is to be carbon-neutral by the year 2035. Currently, more than half of Helsinki’s carbon dioxide emissions originate from the production of energy used for heating. Reaching the carbon-neutrality goal requires, in addition to the other actions, that the emissions originating from the production of heat are reduced significantly.
The Finnish government has decided to place a ban on the burning of coal for energy production by 2029. As more than half of all the heating energy used in Helsinki is still produced using coal, this ban will have a major impact on the City. Helsinki does not want to settle for the most obvious solution and replace the use of coal with biomass, because biomass is not a problem-free and sustainable energy source either, due to carbon dioxide emissions and biodiversity issues and to questions related to the availability and transport of biomass.
In order to find answers for a truly sustainable, long-term and impactful energy solution for Helsinki, the Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori has launched the global one million euro Helsinki Energy Challenge. The question of the challenge is simple – how to replace coal with as much carbon-neutrality as possible and with as little biomass as possible.
The competition is arranged to provide all parties with an equal opportunity to bring their solutions to the table for evaluation on the same terms. Helsinki Energy Challenge invites solution and technology developers globally to propose their solutions. Helsinki Energy Challenge will be open globally for all – for companies, consortiums, research institutions, universities and others.
Helsinki will also challenge other cities to join in and work to solve the question of emissions-free heating. In addition to solving Helsinki’s own challenge, the Helsinki Energy Challenge aims to find solutions with potential to solve global decarbonisation targets outside Helsinki and Finland as well.
“Climate change is the most crucial challenge of our time and Helsinki is one of the leading cities championing the fight against it. Helsinki Energy Challenge aims to find solutions for Helsinki but also more broadly for other cities around the world. Our partners will play a key role in achieving this goal. The C40 network collaborates with the Challenge already at the development phase. World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council is one of our partners in ensuring our success and the global relevance of the Challenge”, says Mayor Jan Vapaavuori.
The preparation of the competition is underway. The planned duration of the competition is about one year. The competition’s start date and registration details will be published later. Helsinki encourages interdisciplinary and innovative discussions, challenging the most obvious solutions in energy production.
The background information of Helsinki’s current heating system has been published on the energychallenge.hel.fi website, to make sure that those interested in the topic can already start preparing for the competition. The organisers of the competition also welcome feedback.
Ms Laura Uuttu-Deschryvere, Project Director, Helsinki Energy Challenge, City of Helsinki, City Executive Office, tel. +358 40 717 6415, [email protected]
The Mayor’s interviews: Ms Sanna-Mari Jäntti, Director, Strategic Initiatives, City of Helsinki, City Executive Office, tel. +358 0400 536 581, [email protected]