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Cleaner heat


Vote for carbon neutrality by choosing district heat produced entirely with renewable energy sources. It is now available to all district heating customers.

Households can significantly reduce carbon emissions by switching to carbon-neutral district heat. For example, in Oulun Energia’s power plants, it is already produced using waste and surplus heat generated in industry and the food trade as well as with bio-based fuels, which include industrial wood by-products, such as sawdust and wood from demolished buildings.

In Oulu, users of carbon-neutral heat include the police department and the properties of the Regional State Administrative Agency and the Tax Administration. Senate Properties, which is responsible for their construction and maintenance, adopted carbon-neutral district heat last spring. Risto Rautiola, Regional Director of Northern Finland at Senate Properties, says that the choice is based on the Finnish Government’s goal to make Finland carbon-neutral by 2030. Senate Properties was among the first adopters of carbon-neutral district heat in Oulu when the choice became available.

- Heating and electricity are the main sources of carbon emissions in the real estate sector. We have been purchasing zero-carbon electricity for a long time, and now we are looking at heating solutions. There is also an ongoing programme to phase out oil heating.

Rautiola says that Senate Properties purchases carbon-neutral district heat where it is available and also urges energy companies to produce zero-emission heat.

Production increased

The use of carbon-neutral district heating is not restricted to large operators. Every district heating customer, private homeowners and housing companies alike, can choose that same option.

- Carbon-neutral heat production sites will be actively increased and the use of peat reduced,” says Kimmo Alatulkkila, Heating Services Manager at Oulun Energia.

- We currently have several projects that will increase the share of carbon-neutral production in our production, and there has been a considerable transition from peat towards bio-based fuels this year.

By choosing a new alternative to district heating, the customer will genuinely reduce total carbon emissions, not just their own carbon footprint. The price of the product is kept as low as possible in order to help customers keep their annual heating costs more or less the same.

The origin of the district heat is also verified so that the carbon-neutral district heat is what was promised.

Carbon-neutral heat production is a significant, future-oriented choice for Oulun Energia.
- The investments are many times higher than the flow of income from customers for this product at this point in time.

How does the water know?

Consumers have asked how will the water circulating in the district heating network know whether it is carbon-neutral or not?

Kimmo Alatulkkila responds by saying that district heating itself is only a channel through which energy is transferred to the customer. The end product is the same for everyone, i.e. homes are heated with hot water circulating in the district heating network. You can look for a point of comparison on the electricity market. While the electricity itself is the same, the consumer can choose which type of energy production source they wish to use.

This article was originally published in Oulun Energia’s customer magazine 2/2021. Text by Pirkko Koivu.