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Finland pushing ahead with innovative geothermal heating project

Winter view, Espoo, Finland (source: flickr/ Antti T. Nissinen, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 15 Feb 2016

With an investment decision, a Finnish geothermal district heating project is being pushed forward and now plans to start a drilling campaign as early as March, April this year.

With drilling planned to start this spring, a Finnish project is now pushing ahead with a planned geothermal district heating project. St1 Deep Heat Oy has made an investment decision to construct a geothermal heat pilot plant in Otaniemi, Espoo. The plan is to start drilling the wells reaching down to a depth of seven kilometres in late March or early April.

“Geothermal heat is a completely new and emission-free alternative for heat production”, so the press release, saying that it “can revolutionise the district heat production in Finland. In fact, the pilot project in Espoo is one of the first key projects in renewable energy during this government term to which the Ministry of Employment and the Economy has decided to grant an investment subsidy. The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation Tekes also provides significant support to the scientific research related to the project. One of the goals of the pilot project is to increase Finnish expertise in the field of geothermal heat production for future use. The project was also chosen as the best innovation of 2015 in the field of district heating in a competition with the aim of finding new technical solutions, services or business models for the field.

“The geothermal heat pilot plant in Espoo is one of the most important research and product development investments in the field of energy in our country. It’s great that society is involved in supporting a project and development that may lead to a giant leap towards stopping the use of fossil fuels in heat production. District heat based mainly on fossil energy is the most common form of heating in Finland. The pilot project can offer a renewable, emission-free source of energy for district heat production, and it can be linked directly into the existing district heat network,” says Jari Suominen, the Director of Renewable Energy of St1.

Through competitive tendering, St1 Deep Heat has chosen Strada Energy as its partner in drilling deep-rock wells. The British company is specialised in geothermal drilling and its professionals have several decades of experience in challenging projects. Strada uses patented technology that makes drilling deep into Finland’s hard granite bedrock possible and the company’s mode of operation and cost effectiveness are also a good fit for the Espoo project.

Strada Energy CEO Glenn Baldwin said the company was delighted to be in partnership with St1 Deep Heat. “We are very pleased to be collaborating with St1 in executing this ground-breaking and environmentally significant European project. Strada’s unique patented fluid hammer operating system combined with water-based percussion techniques enables a cost-efficient and quick way to drill over 7000 metres total measured depth wells in granite. We look forward to a long relationship with St1 who are world-leaders in their renewable energy vision,” he said.

It is estimated that the heat well drilling phase will last for approximately six months. The heat pilot plant is estimated to be completed in 2017. The heat generated by the plant will be sold to Fortum’s district heating network, and it will cover up to 10% of Espoo’s district heating needs.

Source: Press release by email