Helsinki Energy Challenge looked for carbon neutral heating solutions with the aim of decarbonizing the Finnish capital by 2035.
Among the four winning proposals was Helsinki’s Hot Heart system, where Schneider Electric plays a key role in the automatization of the AI-based thermal storage system.
Hot Heart concept brings 10 giant sea water basins off the shores of Helsinki that act as thermal batteries. Four of the hot water reservoirs are enclosed with domes and used for recreational purposes.
London, UK, 22 March 2021 – The City of Helsinki arranged an international Helsinki Energy Challenge to find future-proof solutions to replace the burning of coal for district heating. The one-million-euro prize was divided between four winning solutions. One of the awarded solutions was the Hot Heart concept where water reservoirs acting as thermal batteries are situated off the shores of Helsinki. The trans-disciplinary Hot Heart team was coordinated by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati, an international design and innovation office. Schneider Electric brought its expertise on the energy optimization and elasticity of energy demand to the team.
“Together with the best experts on the field, we were able to come up with an idea that will fulfill Helsinki’s needs for energy production and possibly even speed up the city’s decarbonization by as early as 2028. This is also a great opportunity to help the city of Helsinki and other similar cities to see how bringing together several systems into one functionality can increase efficiency and lower the costs,” says Jan Mattsson, Specifier and Digital Sales Director at Schneider Electric Finland.
Located in the heart of Helsinki, Hot Heart is a set of 10 cylindrical basins, each measuring 225 meters in diameter. When filled up, they can carry up to 10 million cubic meters of water. The system functions like a giant thermal battery: renewable energy is converted into heat, stored in the basins and withdrawn through the city’s heat distribution channels during the winter. The model is highly adaptable and could be replicated by coastal cities with similar climatic characteristics pursuing sustainable heating solutions.
“The future needs to be sustainable, smart, people-centric and increasingly powered by renewable energy. The innovative Helsinki Hot Heart thermal energy project achieves all of this at once,” said Philippe Delorme, Executive Vice-President, Energy Management at Schneider. “Solutions that combine electric and digital technology tick the all-important boxes of efficiency, safety and measurable environmental outcomes. Most importantly, innovations like these allow us to accelerate the journey to net zero for governments, businesses and consumers.”
“Winning the Helsinki Energy Challenge confirms the unique ability of our AI-based EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor solution to synchronize the production and consumption of electricity and heat. Thanks to Hot Heart, the heating energy demand of Helsinki can be covered in a sustainable way and with lower costs. Hot Heart also helps to stabilize the national energy grid in light of fluctuating supply,” says Jani Vahvanen, CEO of Schneider Electric Finland.
“The Corporate Knights recognition that Schneider Electric received in January as the most sustainable corporation in the world, now comes to life in Finland, too,” Vahvanen adds.
Unique recreational experiences In addition to its thermal storage properties, Hot Heart doubles as an accessible venue for recreational purposes. Four of the 10 hot water reservoirs are enclosed with transparent domes where “Floating Forests” are situated – tropical ecosystems from the world’s key rainforest zones, naturally heated by the basins underneath.
The “Floating Forests” provide visitors with a place to socialize and enjoy sunlight – thanks to the Sun-like LED technology – even during the Nordic winter. They create a unique public space for local residents and an attraction for international travellers.
The concept was co-developed by Schneider Electric, Carlo Ratti Associati, Ramboll, Transsolar, Danfoss Leanheat®, and, with the collaboration of OP Financial Group, Schlaich Bergermann Partner and Squint/Opera.
Video of the Hot Heart solution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCsZUo3JCg4s
The imagery is available here: https://we.tl/t-RbBjafsRnz
Detailed information on the project is available here.
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