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Helsinki to shut down coal-fired power plant 2 years ahead of schedule

The city has pledged to become carbon neutral by the year 2035.

Hanasaaren hiilikasat
Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

The City of Helsinki-owned energy company Helen has announced it plans to shut down its coal-fired power plant in 2023, two years earlier than originally planned.

The firm said it decided to shut down the facility ahead of schedule due to rising carbon tax costs.

Hanasaari's closure is expected to have a significant impact on Finland's carbon footprint, as it is the country's third largest source of carbon emissions.

"It's possible to close the power plant earlier than planned, as we have done a lot of work and made significant investments in the production of emission-free heat and electricity in recent years," Helen's CEO Juha-Pekka Weckström said.

According to the updated transition schedule, the coal-fired plant will be put into reserve operation in 2022-2023, until a new biofuel-based heat plant in the Vuosaari district is put into use. After that, the old Hanasaari plant will be permanently shut down.

Transition to renewable energy

The city's outgoing mayor, Jan Vapaavuori, praised the city-owned firm's efforts to find alternative energy solutions, saying that Helsinki and the company sought guidance from around the world to do so.

"Helen and the City of Helsinki systematically developed renewable alternatives and technologies that can be used to replace the plant," Vapaavuori said.

The site of the power plant on the island of Hanasaari, which is easily identified with its ubiquitous, giant pile of black coal, is in a prime location for future potential development, according to the mayor.

He said that the island, which is adjacent to the developing and former industrial areas of Suvilahti and Teurastamo, could someday become part of a new city centre in the east.

Helen's Weckström said that a total of one billion euros has been set aside for carbon-neutral investments and that one third of the investment decisions have already been made.

The city has pledged to become carbon neutral by the year 2035, a goal which will be implemented in stages.

Helsinki's other coal-fired power plant, on the island of Salmisaari will also be closed ahead of schedule, according to Mayor Vapaavuori.

However, Helen is not expected to stop using coal until a law banning coal energy production comes into force in 2029.

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