Helsinki Energy Challenge 

Without any extra deployments of biomass plants,

how can Helsinki become carbon neutral by 2035?

The city of Helsinki looked for solutions that could have a significant impact on the cessation of coal-fired heat production. Therefor, a one-million-euro competition was created to find modern solutions for urban district heating.

Smart Salt City is the name of our solution that melds the beauty of novel energy storage and artificial intelligence with commercially available energy technologies.

The challenge started early in 2020 and had over 200 participants from all over the world.

SaltX realized early that more data was needed and together with Rebase Energy, an answer to Helsinki’s problem was formed.

Smart Salt City’s solution to Helsinki Energy Challenge melds the beauty of novel energy storage and artificial intelligence with commercially available energy technologies. We fashion a new energy system for Helsinki employing optimal system sizing, demand control and viable deployment strategies utilising novel thermochemical energy storage technology.

Heat decarbonization and modern renewable energy cities

Helsinki and several other cities has goals to reduce fossil fuel-based energy use and most to move towards renewable energy. This has seen good movement and laudable success towards the greening of electricity systems but doing the same for heating has been a bit more difficult.

This, on one hand, has been due to the significantly higher heating demand compared to electricity demand in many colder climates, and on the other hand to the vast diversity of heating systems coupled with the lack of general awareness and interest as it pertains to heating technologies compared to electricity/power systems.

The transition towards decarbonization

The roadmap for the decarbonisation of heating in Helsinki considered primarily the shutdown of coal plants by 2029 and the goals of Helsinki city in the upcoming 15 years to reduce greenhouse gas/CO2 emissions of the heating system by 80%.

The decommissioning of the coal fired plants, whilst significantly reducing the CO2 emissions (responsible for 53% of the emissions in district heating in 2019) basically removes reliable baseload heating and electricity capacity. Current plans are to replace this with heat pumps, renewable energy, heat procurement and biomass energy.

Smart Salt City

The solution proposes salt/mineral-based thermochemical energy storage technology. This utility-scale energy storage solution employs a novel surface-enhanced material that augments the robustness and reliability of the salt allowing for it to be used in industrially available sub-components useful for stationary energy storage but also giving rise to the possibility moving the energy geographically.

Additionally, we present an artificial intelligence-based optimisation engine that allow for introduction of innovative local flexibility markets that unlocks demand control. Thereby, substantial emissions reductions can thus be made without breaking the bank.

Read more about the SaltX submission here

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