The Helsinki Energy Challenge has been set up to find innovative new solutions to urban heating that go beyond burning fossil fuels and biomass to help the city meet its ambitious goal to be carbon-neutral by 2035.
Courtesy of City of Helsinki
Entries to the Helsinki Energy Challenge, a global one-million-euro challenge competition to find a carbon-neutral solution for urban heating, close at 16:00 EET on 30 September 2020. To date the Challenge has attracted entries from over 13 countries, including Canada, Austria and Portugal, in addition to Finland, with entrants from over 50 countries expressing interest.
Cities have a key role in driving the shift to a low-carbon economy and Helsinki has a stated goal of becoming free of coal by 2029, and carbon-neutral by 2035. Currently, more than half of the city’s heat is produced with coal. In order to achieve carbon-neutrality, Helsinki is seeking radically new solutions to meet demand for heating homes in the variable Nordic climate.
Helsinki’s approach to regulation and open data is known as the “City as a testbed” policy. The city was recently selected for urban trials by Wing, Alphabet’s drone delivery service, as well as a driverless microbus service developed by Muji and Sensible 4.
“Climate change is a global crisis that will not be solved through quick fixes” said Mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavuori. “With the Helsinki Energy Challenge we are seeking new innovative solutions, even if it would mean significant changes to our existing system. COVID-19 hasn’t cancelled climate change. Our priority must be to stick to global climate goals, and if anything to be even more ambitious in our actions. Instead of agreements or statements we need systemic changes and actions with real impact. We invite innovators from all around the world to use Helsinki as a testbed for truly sustainable solutions for urban heating. Taking this next step might lead to a revolutionary breakthrough in our fight for a more sustainable city life.”