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Helsinki million-euro energy challenge deadline beckons

The challenge has been set up to find innovative new solutions to urban heating that go beyond burning fossil fuels and biomass to help the city meet its goal to be carbon-neutral by 2035.

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The city of Helsinki aims to be carbon-neutral by 2035. Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo
The city of Helsinki aims to be carbon-neutral by 2035. Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo

There are four weeks remaining to enter the Helsinki Energy Challenge, a global competition to find a carbon-neutral solution for urban heating which goes beyond burning biomass. Entries for the one million-euro competition close on 30 September 2020.

 

As part of its transition towards a sustainable future, the city has set goals of becoming free of coal by 2029, and carbon-neutral by 2035.

 

Carbon-neutrality

 

Urban heating leaves a huge carbon footprint. Currently, more than half of Helsinki’s heat is produced with coal. In order to achieve carbon-neutrality, it acknowledges it needs radically new solutions to meet demand for heating homes in the famously variable Nordic climate.

 

According to Helsinki its approach to regulation and open data, known as the “city as a testbed” policy, coupled with its “lively ecosystem” of innovative businesses and industry makes the city one of the best places to work on solutions to climate change.

 

“Climate change is a global crisis that will not be solved through quick fixes. With the Helsinki Energy Challenge we are seeking new innovative solutions, even if it would mean significant changes to our existing system,” said Jan Vapaavuori, mayor of Helsinki.

 

“Covid-19 hasn’t cancelled climate change. Our priority must be to stick to global climate goals, and, if anything, to be even more ambitious in our actions. Instead of agreements or statements we need systemic changes and actions with real impact.”

 

Vapaavuor continued: “We invite innovators from all around the world to use Helsinki as a testbed for truly sustainable solutions for urban heating. Taking this next step might lead to a revolutionary breakthrough in our fight for a more sustainable city life.”

 

Finalists in the challenge will be announced on 6 November 2020. Successful teams will receive a €10,000 grant to continue developing their solution. They will also be invited to Helsinki or attend a virtual co-creation boot camp, where they will receive more information and insights, coaching, mentoring and networking to further develop their ideas and solutions. Travel expenses to Helsinki for the boot camp will be covered for a maximum of three team members per team.

“We invite innovators from all around the world to use Helsinki as a testbed for truly sustainable solutions for urban heating”

Final submissions will be made on 22 January 2021 and, following intensive evaluation by an international panel of experts, the winner of the €1m prize will be announced at a ceremony in Helsinki in March 2021.

 

The winning entry will be considered for further co-development in partnership with the City of Helsinki. The challenge also provides the participants an opportunity to gain visibility as well as potential to scale the ideas as solutions beyond Helsinki.

 

To date, the City of Helsinki. reports the challenge has attracted entries from 13 countries, including Canada, Austria and Portugal, in addition to Finland, with entrants from more than 50 countries expressing interest.

 

For more information go to Helsinki Energy Challenge

 

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