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Helsinki energy utility to build tunnel to use seawater to heat homes

The city of Helsinki announced plans to build a 400-million-euro tunnel system that will enable the city to utilize seawater to heat homes in the area.
Helen, the energy utility of the City of Helsinki, announced Finland’s YIT and Spain’s Acciona as its alliance partners for the project, saying the trio will over the next two years devise a plan for transferring heat from seawater to heat pumps to be installed at its plant in Salmisaari, a sector of the quarter of Ruoholahti.

The Helsinki Times reported that the pumps, the price of which is not included in the 400-million-euro cost estimate, will be able to generate district heat from seawater as cold as 2°C.

The actual construction phase is projected to take roughly five years, meaning the plant could start utilizing heat from seawater in district heat production at the earliest in 2029.

“Helen believes seawater heat pumps will have an important role in the shift toward a dispersed energy system, where energy is produced at several sites. The energy platform, meaning the heating and cooling network, offers an opportunity to combine innovative technologies and production methods,” said Timo Aaltonen, the director of energy platform at Helen.

Helsingin Sanomat wrote that, if completed, the tunnel would be the first constructed using tunnel-boring machines (TBMs). Acciona will contribute its expertise in tunnel boring to the project, having used the machines bore a tunnel for high-speed rail traffic between Oslo and Ski in Norway.
The seawater tunnel is to terminate some 17 kilometres off the coast of the Finnish capital.

Helen has announced that the combined heat and power plant will stop using coal in 2024. Its Hanasaari plant, in turn, will stop using the fossil fuel in April 2023. The energy utility is presently conducting a feasibility study into utilizing waste heat collected at the Kilpilahti industrial site in Porvoo.


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