Carbon emissions falling faster than expected in Espoo – heat pumps and biofuel generating a fifth of all district heating output

According to initial figures released by the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY), carbon emissions in Espoo fell by 5% in 2016. District heating is increasingly being generated from non-fossil fuel sources and per capita emissions are falling. However, viewed long-term, significant population growth has led to a rise in total emissions.

District heating accounts for 42% of total emissions, but the levels have been declining since 2013 as the percentage of fossil fuel-generated district heating continues to fall.

“Heat pumps and biofuels already generate over a fifth of Espoo’s district heating,” explained Leena Sjöblom, Principal Environmental Specialist at the Espoo Environment Department. “The Suomenoja heat pump station first opened in 2015, and during 2016 we have seen a rise in the use of biofuels including pellets and bio-oil.”

Another contributing factor to the falling emissions is low-carbon domestic electricity. However, much remains to be done to drive down per capita carbon emissions.

“In 2016, our emissions fell to 4.2 tonnes per person but we are still some way from our target of 2.6 tonnes,” said Sjöblom. “However, we are continuing to exceed our own targets.”

By 2030, Espoo’s target is to achieve a 60% reduction in per capita emissions on 1990 levels when per capita emissions stood at 6.1 tonnes.

Strong population growth presents a challenge for Espoo

Despite per capita carbon emissions falling at a rapid rate, total emissions are proving more difficult to tackle. In 2016, total carbon emissions in Espoo continued to exceed 1990 levels. Strong population growth is leading to an increase in emissions from a number of sources, including traffic, which accounts for 27% of the total.

“Fortum is doing its share by reducing district heating emissions,” concluded Sjöblom. “It is now time for Espoo residents to play an active role and help to reduce emissions from, for example, traffic.”