The ten teams selected for the final phase of Helsinki Energy Challenge have submitted their final competition entries. The finalist entries include many different proposals on how Helsinki can stop using coal for heat production as sustainably as possible by 2029.

The finalist teams were selected in November 2020, after which the teams participated in the co-creation phase of the challenge competition. During co-creation phase, which included a 3-day intensive virtual boot camp, the teams received support and information to be able to develop their solutions further. 

The final proposals include many different solutions to solve Helsinki’s heating challenge. The proposals include diverse overall solutions, some of which make use of various heat sources and combine existing technologies in new ways. The entries also include those that make use of new technology. Among the solutions, there are new approaches to heat storage and transfer, waste heat utilization, energy consumption control and consumer activation. There are also non-technical innovations that enable the realisation of future sustainable solutions and the combination of decentralised and centralised solutions. 

Multi-disciplinary and international teams

Each finalist team includes multiple experts from diverse areas of expertise. The finalists include start-ups, large energy and technology companies, research institutes, universities, and other expert organisations, as well as international consortiums of multiple companies.

The teams involve organisations from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Austria and France, among other countries. Most of the teams have experts and organisations from multiple countries. 

Finalists and the winner announced in March

The international jury will review the finalist teams’ final entries and select the winner in February. The jury consists of Markku Ollikainen (University of Helsinki, Chair of the Finnish Climate Change Panel), Sanna Syri (Aalto University), Robert Stoner (MIT Energy Initiative), Martin Young (World Energy Council), Brian Vad Mathiesen (University of Aalborg) and Hans Jørgen Koch (Nordic Energy Research). The evaluation criteria include the solution’s climate impact, impact on natural resources, cost impact, implementation schedule, feasibility, security of supply, and capacity.

The finalist teams and entries, as well as the winner, will be announced in March. The City of Helsinki is committed to openly sharing the lessons learned and results gained in the competition so that other cities may use them in their climate work.

Cities have a key role to play – the COVID-19 pandemic will not stop Helsinki’s climate work

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our time, and cities have a key role to play in mitigating it. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Helsinki keeps investing heavily in its climate work. Helsinki’s goal is to be carbon-neutral by 2035. At the moment, more than half of Helsinki’s carbon dioxide emissions come from heating buildings. This is why finding a sustainable heating solution will have a critical impact on the City achieving its carbon neutrality goal. Currently, more than half of Helsinki’s heating energy is produced with coal, the use of which will have to stop by 2029. Helsinki wants to find long-term sustainable solutions to replace coal, which is why it does not want to replace the use of coal with biomass-fired production.

Helsinki wants to find long-term sustainable solutions to heat the city in the future and to act as a platform for new and innovative solutions that also other cities around the world can benefit from. For this purpose, it opened the international Helsinki Energy Challenge competition on 27 February 2020. Helsinki Energy Challenge inspired 252 teams from 35 countries from around the world to participate. The teams in the first phase of the competition included a total of 1,528 experts and innovators from around the world to seek a solution for Helsinki’s heating challenge. The competition’s first prize is one million euros. 

More information:

Project Director Laura Uuttu-Deschryvere, City of Helsinki, Helsinki Energy Challenge, tel. +358 (0)40 717 6415, laura.uuttu-deschryvere ( at )

Website of Helsinki Energy Challenge:


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