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Carbon-smart choices


What can you do in everyday life to cut carbon dioxide emissions? In future, you will perhaps choose where you live or shop for food on this basis.

Oulun Energia is working to give consumers even more possibilities to opt for a carbon-neutral alternative. So says Reijo Pantsar, Development Manager at Oulun Energia. Looking ahead, residential buildings, business premises and food stores will have a new role in the energy economy as increasingly smarter use is made of waste heat, return heat and various heat sources. Perhaps in future, the shower water in your home will be heated by waste heat from your local store.

Waste heat from refrigeration equipment is already utilised in the Kaukovainio district of Oulu, where surplus heat from the Osuuskauppa Arina store is injected into the district heating network. Some of the buildings in the district use other solutions such as solar panels and heat pumps. The idea behind the Making City project in the district is to make apartment blocks at least self-sufficient in energy together with the heat produced by the S-market grocery store.

“A food store under construction in the Ritaharju district of Oulu will take the model one step further in partnership with Arina and Caverion. A heat pump will be used to enable utilisation of the waste heat produced in the store and the return heat from district heating,” Pantsar says.

Low-carbon living

The Karjasilta district of Oulu will be home to an entire residential area where homes have low-carbon heating. The heating and cooling of 11 apartment blocks being built by Hartela will be implemented in partnership with Oulun Energia. Buildings connected to the local heating network will utilize the cold and heat energy produced by a heat pump, which in turn will use the return energy from district heating.

A heat pump will be used to inject the waste energy created in cooling the area into the district heating network. Heating causes the biggest carbon footprint in the home. Residents of single-family homes or apartment blocks can already buy carbon-neutral district - Onni heat from Oulun Energia. This is produced by using wood raw material, which originates as an industrial  by-product, instead of peat as an energy source.

Likewise tenants can also choose a home that is heated in a carbon-neutral way. Starting in October this year, 98% of rental housing provider Sivakka’s more than 8,000 apartments will be heated with carbon-neutral district heat.

Besides this, Oulun Energia is actively developing its entire district heat production and distribution network to ensure both operate at maximum efficiency with small losses. This will reduce the need for fuel. Pantsar points out that carbon-neutral district heat is being pursued in many different ways than through the burning of wood.

“We make choices towards carbon neutrality for our customers. The goal is for carbon neutrality by 2035 and we’re on track to reach this a bit ahead of this,” says Pantsar.

This article was originally published in Oulun Energia’s customer magazine 3/2021. Story by Pirkko Koivu.