Helsinki carbon neutral plan targets 1/6 of electricity needs from rooftop solar

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The Finnish capital Helsinki today published details of a bold plan to become carbon neutral by 2035 – 15 years earlier than originally planned.

The scheme, which has an interim goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 60% by 2030 from 1990 levels, outlined detailed plans of how the city will increase its renewable energy consumption, improve its energy efficiency and widen its adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) on the city’s roads.

In terms of renewables, Helsinki aims to have rooftop solar power meeting one-sixth of its electricity needs by 2035. This is just one of 143 identifiable action points that Helskini’s director general of environment services, Esa Nikunen has outlined.

The definition of carbon neutrality is for Helsinki to lower its GHG by 80% within the city borders, with the remaining 20% offset by other initiatives. The city has been lowering its GHG by 1,000 kilotons per year (kt/a), but needs to increase this rate by 2,000 kt/a to meet the 2035 target of just 700 kt/a.

All the while, Helsinki’s population is projected to increase from 640,000 currently, to 780,000 by that date.

The chief source of emissions comes from heating, but Helsinki believes that a combination of energy efficiency measures and stricter standards in new builds can bring this value down.

Similarly, transportation emissions can be lowered by 69% with the adoption of EVs, which are expected to account for 30% of the city’s total fleet by 2035.

Interestingly, no mention is made in the city plan of storage technology, which could add flexible sector coupling capability to the Helsinki grid.