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Helsinki pioneers smart city solutions

The city has reached the three-year implementation stage in the mySMARTLife project 2016-2021

The new Kalasatama area under construction on a former harbour and industrial land
The new Kalasatama area under construction on a former harbour and industrial land

European Lighthouse city Helsinki has reached a three-year implementation stage in an urban transformation project to cut energy use by 10-20 per cent in the project’s target areas.


The cuts will be realised with commercial-scale smart solutions for buildings, mobility and urban infrastructure.


The Finnish capital embarked on the mySMARTLife project 2016-2021 along with two other European Lighthouse cities.


“Every city involved in the mySMARTLife project develops its own programme to achieve the projected cuts,” said Mikko Martikka, mySMARTLife Helsinki Lighthouse lead, pointing out that urban solutions are key to climate action as cities produce 70 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.


Helsinki’s plans also include an autonomous bus line for regular service and offering data produced by new technologies as open data.


Martikka’s workplace, the headquarters of the City of Helsinki environment services at the Viikki Environment House, is the main site for developing smart energy solutions for office buildings.


As a result of a palette of energy savings solutions that include in-house solar and wind energy production, geothermal cooling, and intelligent lighting, the building already features the lowest external-energy consumption of any Finnish office building.


The Environment House uses a Siemens-provided system to store enough solar energy to power one single-family home for 18 hours. The technology can be used to charge electric vehicles as well as powering the building.


Further improvement is anticipated from new remote-controlled technology provided by Fourdeg that will regulate workspace heating according to occupancy and demand response.


Meanwhile, the new Kalasatama area under construction on former harbour and industrial land, designated as a smart city development platform, is the site for pilot projects developing solutions for new construction.


Energy efficiency of Kalasatama residential buildings is improved with remote-controlled home automation systems provided by ABB. A local smart grid will also support an electric car network and novel electric car charging concepts.


In adjacent Suvilahti, the Helsinki energy company Helen is developing combinations of solar power production and energy storage to reduce peak demand, and electric car charging. Suvilahti is home to the first Nordic vehicle-to-grid charging station, which allows electric vehicles to return power to the grid.


Energy-efficiency upgrades for older residential buildings are being developed with retrofits in the 1970s apartment buildings of the Merihaka district. Finnish energy solutions provider, Salusfin, is equipping the apartments with smart thermostats to increase energy efficiency and living comfort. Future applications of the technology can include demand response.


The mySMARTLife Helsinki mobility development is spearheaded by a driverless bus line pilot which aims to establish an economically viable autonomous bus service integrated with the rest of Helsinki’s public transit fleet.


The RobobusLine Helsinki project, run by Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, will begin in late 2017 and is expected to last three years.


The other mySMARTLife Lighthouse cities are Hamburg and Nantes. Four follower cities will learn from the Lighthouse cities’ experiences. The project is funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.


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