Striving for carbon neutrality, Helsinki has renewable energy in focus

Green TransitionNewsTop stories

At the present time, the devastating effects of climate change appear to be more visible than ever before. Rising temperatures exacerbate a wide range of disasters around the world, including heatwaves, droughts, storms and floods. While some of the most damaging effects of climate crisis are now unavoidable, the future impact of it is determined by how much countries, and especially cities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

Renewable energy is a type of energy that is derived from clean and natural resources and is therefore much more environmentally friendly. It has the potential to significantly improve energy security while also lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Using renewable energy can help to reduce energy imports and reduce the use of fossil fuels, which are among the major sources of CO2 emissions. 

It is up to cities to try and come up with innovative solutions to this pressing issue and continue to address it. Turning to renewable energy sources is one of the strategies that numerous European cities have already started to move towards. Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is no exception. The city highly values and encourages environmentally-friendly lifestyles, which is also why Helsinki now has a reputation as one of the sustainable development role models. In Finland and in Helsinki, numerous key actors are constantly looking for new ways to improve energy efficiency and accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

The Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 Action Plan states that the Finnish capital was committed to playing a role in mitigating climate change. The goal of the Helsinki City Strategy 2017–2021 is for the Finnish capital to be carbon-neutral by 2035, which can be achieved by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 80%. It was stated that, in order for this ambitious goal to be met, all relevant key actors will need to work together. Achieving the goal will necessitate significant investments in renewable energy, building energy efficiency, low-emission transportation, and emission-free energy production.

The Finnish capital’s energy company, Helen, has taken a very important role in the process of achieving carbon neutrality. One of Finland’s largest energy companies aims to achieve 100% carbon neutrality in our energy production by 2030. Last month, the company announced it has acquired Kalistanneva wind farm from the French independent green energy operator VALOREM, together with the Bank of Åland’s Wind Power Fund Non-UCITS. Investment is viewed as another concrete step toward the company’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2030, as it supports the transition to carbon-neutral energy production and a more diverse energy system.

It was stated in The Carbon-neutral Helsinki 2035 Action Plan that ‘’Helsinki strives to combine renewable energy sources with energy efficiency in an optimal way”. 2025 objectives include increasing the proportion of renewable fuels to reach 25% (compared to 12% in 2017). 

‘’When attempting to make the built environment carbon-neutral, decentralised solutions based on renewable energy and the business plans thereof are essential. Properties can become partially self-sustaining in terms of energy, and properties could also transform from passive consumers into producer-consumers through the business-like use of energy investments,’’ it was stated in the Action Plan.

There is no method to safeguard the environment unless we drastically change how we generate and consume electricity. In addition to numerous environmental benefits, the use of renewable technologies can stimulate new economic activity by creating new jobs. Other European cities can follow Helsinki’s lead and make their own contributions to improving public health and environmental conditions by focussing on renewable energy. (photo credit: kjpargeter/Freepik)