Finland energy company to quit burning coal

The energy company Helen, owned by the city of Helsinki, plans to close its coal-fired power plant in spring 2023, nearly two years earlier than originally planned, the company said in a press release.

Helen said that the decision will have a significant impact on the carbon footprint of the city and the country.

According to the original plan, the power plant, located on the island of Hanasaari, was to be retired by the end of 2024.

Under the revised schedule, the plant will be put into reserve operation for the 2022-2023 heating season pending the opening of a new biofuel-based heat plant in another district. Then the Hanasaari plant will be permanently shut down.

The company has made a lot of effort and significant investments in the production of renewable and emission-free heat and electricity in recent years, said Juha-Pekka Weckstrom, chief executive officer (CEO) of Helen, in the press release. This enables it to shut down the Hanasaari plant ahead of schedule.

Hanasaari’s coal stock area will also disappear and the area will be gradually rehabilitated for use by the locals.

The Mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavuori, noted that “The Hanasaari power plant is Finland’s third-largest source of industrial emissions and accounts for two percent of our country’s total emissions. The plant’s closure will reduce the city’s total emissions by about 20 percent.”

He said that the island of Hanasaari, which is adjacent to the former industrial areas of Suvilahti and Teurastamo now under development, could someday become part of a new city center in the east.

The City of Helsinki and its energy company have committed to gradually achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.

A total of one billion euros (1.19 billion U.S. dollars) have been set aside by Helen for carbon-neutral investments, and one-third of the investment-related decisions have already been made, Weckstrom noted.