Turku being turned into a Climate Positive City


Autumn 2020

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 building Ikituuri.”

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 concrete examples.

Piling of Tyyssija is already underway. Extensive negotiation work and planning work is also currently undergoing.

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 ongoing."

Grönholm states that the idea is to find new innovative solutions that could also be easily utilised elsewhere.

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 in Turku.

"There is top level water expertise in the Turku region. The efficient 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", Grönholm says.

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 apartments.

"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 district heat."

Approximately 10 per cent of all district heat needed in Turku is produced in Kakola.

The excess electricity produced by solar panels at Aitiopaikka can be transmitted to neighbouring buildings. Photo: ©Turku Energia, Esko Keski-Oja

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.

Contact information:
Björn Grönholm
Development Manager
Project Development Unit,
City of Turku
Email: bjorn.gronholm@turku.fi

Joonas Rantala
Real Estate Engineer at the Turku
Student Village Foundation
Email: joonas.rantala@tys.fi

Further information:
Website: www.turku.fi/en/carbonneutralturku