The energy company St1’s pilot project in geothermal heat production in Espoo is progressing on schedule. Studies conducted on the two-kilometre exploration hole at the Fortum heat plant in Otaniemi and subsequent rock sample analyses have produced promising results, which indicate that emission-free geothermal heat can be extracted from the depths of Finnish bedrock.
The analysis phase of the project involved compiling geological data in preparation for drilling the actual deep-rock wells. The analyses show that temperatures in the bedrock are as expected: The temperature at a depth of two kilometres exceeds 38 °C, which confirms the viability of the project.
St1 plans to begin drilling the seven-kilometre wells during the first months of next year, and to start commercial operation on Finland’s first pilot plant for geothermal heat production in 2017. The heat generated by the plant will be sold to Fortum’s district heating network, and it will cover up to 10% of Espoo’s district heating needs.
The geothermal heat production project in Espoo is one of the most important renewable energy initiatives in Finland, and it will give Finland a completely new, fully emission-free alternative for district heat production. The project will give a considerable boost to Finland’s energy self-sufficiency and efforts to reduce emissions, as district heating is the most common form of heating in Finland: District heating currently heats the homes of a total of 2.7 million Finns.
“Our geothermal heat production project has been received extremely positively. Cooperation with the City of Espoo, the authorities and decision-makers has run smoothly, and progress has been excellent. The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes has lent its support to the project, and we are currently waiting for a positive decision from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. We are hoping to be able to begin drilling the actual wells as soon as possible, as this renewable and innovative energy technology demonstration could revolutionise district heat production in Finland”, says St1’s Director of Renewable Energy Jari Suominen.
District Heating Innovation of the Year
St1’s geothermal heat plant project was chosen as the District Heating Innovation of the Year at the District Heating 2015 event on 27 November 2015. The aim of the competition was to identify new technological solutions, services or operating models for district heat production, use, distribution or consumption. According to the panel of judges, St1’s project is an excellent example of how to combine competitiveness, environmental friendliness and innovation in district heat production. The pilot plant will help district heating companies to respond to the increasing demands of environmental regulations, profitability targets and competition. The plant will also make district heating more competitive as a form of energy, and lower the production costs of district heat compared to current old combustion-based plants.