Deep Heat

“Because no fuel is required, the plant will not generate any greenhouse gas emissions”

The future of comfort indoors may lie in the oldest bedrock in the world

The bedrock in Espoo is very old. This is because the ice ages took away the younger sediments and exposed the old. This means also that the heat inside our planet is closer to the surface in Espoo than in most locations on our planet.

That is why two holes, many kilometres deep, are being drilled on the Otaniemi Campus.

“This is where I studied, so it is natural that the holes are drilled here and the pilot plant situated somewhere nearby,” says Mika Anttonen, Founder and CEO of ST1, one of the two Finnish energy companies—Fortum being the other one—that collaborate on an effort to build a geothermal pilot heat plant.

Geothermal energy is produced by drilling two deep holes into the ground. Cool water is pumped into one of the holes, it heats up inside the ground and rises up through the other hole. At the heat plant, the heated water goes into a heat exchanger and fed into the district heating network. The water is hot enough to be used directly in the district heat production without any additional heating.

The pilot plant is scheduled to go into production in 2016.  Fortum will buy the heat energy produced by the plant for Espoo’s district heating network.

The plant’s estimated production capacity is up to 40 megawatts of geothermal heat energy. With that output, Fortum could cover as much as 10% of the district heat needs in the Espoo region. Because no fuel is required, the plant will not generate any greenhouse gas emissions.

The district heating network in Espoo is also home to other innovations. Certain segments of Fortum’s network can deliver not just heat but also cold. This makes the network a great tool for keeping thousands of homes comfortable regardless of the weather.

To better understand what these technical capabilities could mean to consumers, Fortum is prototyping different types of service concepts ranging from “Temperature-as-a-service” with hourly pricing model to self-planned electricity consumption.

Soon we’ll know what the outcome of the pilot project is, and if large parts of Espoo one day soon will be heated with “Deep Heat”. The project supports the climate programme of Espoo that is aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse. The city is currently developing its already third climate programme that includes goals such as the desire to become Europe’s most significant area of electric public transport.