Helsinki searches sustainable city heating solutions: Global one million euro challenge competition launches today

Uutta Helsinkiä
In a drastic turn to eliminate coal as the main source of district heating, The City of Helsinki today kicks off the Helsinki Energy Challenge – a global one million euro competition to find the future of urban heating. With the aim to find a solution sustainable in the long term, ideas presented must not rely on fossil fuel or biomass fired heating.

With the aim of becoming carbon-neutral by 2035 and with coal banned from energy production in Finland from 2029, Helsinki is strongly dedicated to the decarbonisation of cities. Several cities already have ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions. The City of Helsinki takes things one step further in declaring that it will not rely on biomass-fired heating, making the city’s energy production not just fossil free, but truly sustainable.

In line with the strong commitment to decarbonisation, Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori is taking radical action by launching a global one million euro challenge competition, urging innovators from around the world to propose game-changing solutions for the future of urban heating.

“Solving the urban heating challenge is crucial to reach global climategoals. Cities have a keyrole to play in the transition to a low carbon economy, and Helsinki is nowtaking an initiative to lead the way. We invite innovators from all around the worldto use our city as a testbed to develop not just fossil free, but trulysustainable, solutions. Together, we will createthe future of heating to fight global warming,” says Mayor of Helsinki, JanVapaavuori.

Thegoal of the challenge is to find solutions that can be implemented in Helsinkiby 2029 and thatpotentially could contribute to decarbonising city heating around the world. The City of Helsinki iscommitted to openly sharing the solutions and knowhow gathered from thechallenge. Cities such as Toronto, Amsterdam, Vancouver, and Leeds aswell as organisations like the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council andC40 City Solutions Platform, are already supporting the initiative, to name afew.

“Climate change is aglobal crisis that will not be solved by quick fixes. With over half of thecity’s heat coming from coal, we hope that our shift to sustainable energy canhelp inspire other cities and act as a real life case that a transition ispossible. Taking this next step might lead to arevolutionary breakthrough in our pursuit for a more sustainable city life.” saysVapaavuori.


The scope of Helsinki’sheating system allows for a range of solutions, from large to small scale, butthe ideal combination of solutions is yet to be found. The winning proposal could just as well include technological andbusiness model innovations, as it could be a solution requiring system-leveltransformation. Proposed solutions will beevaluated based on climate impact, impact on natural resources, cost, implementationschedule, implementation feasibility, reliability and security of supply, andcapacity.


About the Helsinki EnergyChallenge:


TheHelsinki Energy Challenge is a challenge competition, open globally to anyonewho can propose a sustainable heating solution for Helsinki – consortiums,start-ups, larger and more established companies, research institutions,universities, research groups and individual experts. Theonly requirement is that participants should join the competition as a team.


Thechallenge is open for submissions from February 27, 2020 until May 31, 2020. Byearly July, finalists will be invited to a co-creation phase, which includes a3-day boot camp, where they are provided support to develop their proposals,before presenting them to an international jury of experts who will name thewinner(s). The winning solution(s) will be presented in November and awardedwith one million euros.


Read more about HelsinkiEnergy Challenge at the website: