Helsinki Pioneers Smart City Solutions in mySMARTLife Project
Helsinki along with two other European Lighthouse cities have reached a three-year implementation stage in the mySMARTLife project 2016–2021 to cut energy use by 10–20 percent in the project’s target areas. The cuts will be realized with commercial-scale smart solutions for buildings, mobility and urban infrastructure. Helsinki’s plans include an autonomous bus line for regular service and offering data produced by new technologies as open data.
“Every city involved in the mySMARTLife project develops its own program to achieve the projected cuts,” explains mySMARTLife Helsinki Lighthouse Lead Mikko Martikka, pointing out that urban solutions are key to climate action as cities produce 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Martikka’s workplace, the headquarters of the City of Helsinki environment services at the Viikki Environment House, is the main site for developing smart energy solutions for office buildings. Thanks to a palette of energy savings solutions that include in-house solar and wind energy production, geothermal cooling, and intelligent lighting, the building already features the lowest external-energy consumption of any Finnish office building. Further improvement will come from new remote-controlled technology provided by Fourdeg to regulate workspace heating according to occupancy and demand response.
The Environment House uses a Siemens-provided system to store enough solar energy to power one single-family home for 18 hours. The technology can be used to charge electric vehicles as well as powering the building.
Energy-efficiency upgrades for older residential buildings are developed with retrofits in the 1970s apartment buildings of the Merihaka district. The Finnish energy solutions provider Salusfin equips the apartments with smart thermostats to increase energy efficiency and living comfort. Future applications of the technology can include demand response.
The new Kalasatama area under construction on former harbor and industrial land, designated as a Smart City development platform, is the site for pilot projects developing solutions for new construction. The benchmark of the Smart Kalasatama development is to give residents one extra hour a day.
The energy efficiency of Kalasatama residential buildings is improved with remote-controlled home automation systems provided by ABB. A local smart grid will support an electric car network and novel electric car charging concepts.
In adjacent Suvilahti, the Helsinki energy company Helen develops combinations of solar power production, energy storage to reduce peak demand, and electric car charging. Suvilahti is home to the first Nordic vehicle-to-grid charging station, which allows electric vehicles to return power to the grid.
The mySMARTLife Helsinki mobility development is spearheaded by a driverless bus line pilot. In the RobobusLine Helsinki project, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences will be experimenting with an autonomous electric minibus operated on public streets in traffic over three years starting in late 2017, aiming at establishing regular and economically viable autonomous bus service integrated with the rest of Helsinki’s public transit fleet.
Helsinki brings to mySMARTLife a strong IoT perspective. The city aims to make energy data gathered by sensors from retrofitted and smart sites available as open data with open APIs in a cloud service, to be freely used for the development of new commercial-scale applications.
The open energy data – such as data on building-level real energy consumption, heat losses, and solar and geothermal potential – is visualized on Helsinki’s city-wide intelligent 3D model, which can thus be used to pinpoint upgrades and measure improvement.
The other mySMARTLife Lighthouse cities are Hamburg and Nantes. Four follower cities learn from the Lighthouse cities’ experiences. The project is funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. Total EU funding is €18 million, €5.6 million for Helsinki.