In Turku Student Village, there is a housing complex the size of a city block that produces
emission-free energy even for the needs of neighbouring buildings. In a European Union Horizon
2020 Lighthouse project, the cleantech area will be expanded into an entire city district. A
climate positive water system is also being developed in Turku.
A flower-shaped building the
size of a city block, called
Aitiopaikka, was completed
in Turku Student Village last
year. The building has 255 apartments
and over 300 inhabitants.
Five hundred solar panels have been
installed on the roof of Aitiopaikka.
At times, they produce even more
energy than needed in the building.
"In this case, the excess electricity is
transmitted to neighbouring buildings
through the power grid of the area",
says Real Estate Engineer Joonas
Rantala from the Student Village
Foundation of Turku.
District heat is used for the heating
of Aitiopaikka. In the Turku region,
already 80 per cent of district heat is
produced using renewable fuel and
modes of production. The percentage
is constantly increasing.
“Underneath Aitiopaikka, there is also
a wide gathering area of ground heat.
It produces half of the heating power
needed for the large neighbouring
Coming next – a climate positive city district
Another European Union Horizon
2020 Lighthouse project called
Response is also now implemented
in Turku Student Village. In this
project, the area of climate-friendly
technology is signifi cantly expanded.
The idea is to build an entire climate
positive city district.
"For instance, heat pumps
connected in series with high
efficiency and efficient heat
exchangers will be used in the area.
A solar plant will be placed on the
roof of a new building called Tyyssija.
In addition, older buildings will be
renovated to make them more
energy efficient; examples of helpful
measures include windows with
quadruple glazing and heat recovery
from air conditioning. Through the
power grid of the area, energy will
be transmitted from one place to
another when needed", Rantala lists
Piling of Tyyssija is already underway.
Extensive negotiation work and
planning work is also currently
Experts in the fi eld across Europe
Development Manager at the City
of Turku Björn Grönholm says
that several businesses, expert
organisations, research institutes
and universities from both Finland
and across Europe take part in the
project. Currently, there are as many
as 57 partners.
"For instance, there are top experts
in solar energy, heat pumps, battery
technology, automation and 5G
connections. One of our important
sparring partners is the city of Dijon
in France where a slightly similar
Lighthouse project is currently
Grönholm states that the idea is
to fi nd new innovative solutions
that could also be easily utilised
The water system was harnessed for energy production
A climate positive city is being built in
Turku Student Village one house and
one city district at a time. There is
also much happening elsewhere, as
the entire city is an experimentation
platform for cleantech.
For instance, a climate positive water
system has been under development
"There is top level water expertise
in the Turku region. The effi cient
treatment of wastewater has
already had a positive impact on
the state of nearby sea areas.
What is even better is that loads
of environmentally friendly energy
is also generated in the process",
At the wastewater treatment plant
in Kakola, district heat is made with
heat pumps out of waste heat in
wastewater. The waste heat would
otherwise be left unutilised. At
the same time, district cooling is
produced for cooling purposes.
District heat from Kakola is used
for heating approximately 15,000
"While wastewater treatment plants
are usually the worst energy guzzlers
in municipalities, in Turku we have
a wastewater treatment plant that
is one of the biggest producers of
Approximately 10 per cent of all
district heat needed in Turku is
produced in Kakola.
An underground experimental laboratory of new energy
Björn Grönholm describes the
underground wastewater treatment
plant in Kakola as an experimental
laboratory of new energy.
"Energy is also produced for example by using a turbine placed in a wastewater effluent pipe", he states.
Naturally, also sludge generated in Kakola is utilised. Liquidised biogas for road traffic use is made out of it.
"We produce clean energy locally. In addition, local production is very good from the point of view of security of supply", Grönholm states.
Text: Matti Välimäki
Translation: Aino Koivisto
The best climate city in Europe
The objective of Turku is to be carbon neutral in 2029. However, this is
merely a milestone. Afterwards, the journey continues towards climate
positivity and the city will eventually sequestrate more carbon than it
releases into the atmosphere.
The ambitious goals of Turku and the climate measures that have
already been taken have also been internationally acknowledged.
Turku has been selected the winner of European Covenant of Mayors
Climate Award 2020 as the best mid-sized Climate city. The best
climate cities are selected among the ten thousand cities that are part
of the EU Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.
Project Development Unit,
City of Turku
Real Estate Engineer at the Turku
Student Village Foundation