Turku Student Village is a Positive Energy District - HögforsGST partnering in EU funded RESPONSE project
Funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, RESPONSE is a project that is working towards Finland's and the EU's goals of carbon neutrality. HögforsGST is part of the project’s international consortium with a total of 53 partners. HögforsGST's role in the project focuses on innovating and developing energy solutions in the Turku Student Village. In practice, the goal is to create a positive energy district with future energy solutions. Innovations such as phase change thermal storages, a smart control system and efficient heat pump technology are an integral part of the Student Village’s energy system.
Turku Student Village's centerpiece is the Tyyssija building. Image: TYS
According to Antti Hartman, Managing Director of HögforsGST, the company is participating in the project with excitement and strong motivation.
- The basic principle of a positive energy district is that it produces more energy than it consumes. The smart heating and cooling solutions we have developed are of utmost importance when it comes to utilizing energy flows as efficiently as possible. We get to showcase our expertise in an exceptionally demanding implementation, so we’ve invested heavily into this project, Hartman says.
The project involves a number of top stakeholders from the energy industry. In addition to HögforsGST, the project involves other pioneering European and Finnish companies and organizations such as Turku Energia, Oilon and the University of Turku.
Fourth generation district heating is a platform for sharing economy
HögforsGST has designed and implemented a smart and energy-efficient heating and cooling system as part of the RESPONSE project. According to Juha Virkki, Business Director of HögforsGST, the system operates the heating and cooling of the Turku Student Village in a new and innovative way that utilizes the entire energy network.
- We have practically developed the entire heat production and distribution system. It is a smart HybridHEAT system, whose energy sources are district heating, exhaust air heat recovery and surplus heat from the district cooling network. At the heart of the entire system is the Fiksu Control System. The goal is that the surplus heat produced in the area can be transferred to Turku Energia's district heating network and utilized in it for heating Turku's homes, Virkki says.
HögforsGST is an experienced developer of hybrid heating systems, but the size of the Turku project is exceptionally large. The massive system produces thousands of megawatt-hours of energy annually, equivalent of an industrial heating system. The large-scale project will also pilot ways to integrate the systems of different actors into a functional entity. Åke Vikstedt, HögforsGST's Key Account Manager, says that data management will play an important role in future energy systems. RESPONSE therefore provides an excellent platform for cooperation between actors.
- RESPONSE takes important steps towards building the smart district heating system of the future. We have gained important experience from collaboration between different actors and systems. In addition, RESPONSE is a great opportunity for us to develop HybridHEAT and Fiksu Control System to be more scalable and compatible with different systems, Vikstedt says.
Vikstedt also wants to highlight the role of district energy networks in improving the energy efficiency of cities and the use of surplus energy, for which district energy systems are suited perfectly.
- District energy networks are a great platform for sharing economy, and Turku Student Village is good example of that. Waste heat generated by one house can be transferred along the district energy network to other properties, reducing the need for primary energy. There is an even greater need for this type of development in the future, so the energy companies’ role as operators and developers of district energy networks is also important, Vikstedt points out.
Responsible use of funds for the climate and comfort of living
According to Antti Hartman, participating in a project like RESPONSE pays dividends for both the companies involved and society in the form of technological progress, better energy systems and reduced emissions.
- RESPONSE has been nothing but a positive experience from our point of view. Our goal is to implement the lessons learned from the project to the market as effectively as possible. Our technical and commercial competitiveness will certainly increase with the project. Investing in energy projects is also good for the society: energy production can be made more efficient and emissions reduced with new technology. The use of common funds has been closely and efficiently monitored, which is a great thing in my opinion, Hartman says.
The RESPONSE project is not just an individual attempt to develop next-generation energy systems: similar projects have been underway around the world for years. According to Hartman, the energy sector is going through a massive transition.
- The pressure of climate change and technological advances are accelerating this kind of development. There is an ever-increasing need in the world for more efficient and cleaner energy systems, and that is exactly what the RESPONSE project is trying to deliver, Hartman says.
Turku Student Village is like a city of the future, where the energy company works closely with the customer, and where the customer also acts as an energy producer. According to Hartman, decentralized energy production, which uses e.g., waste heat as its energy source, will become more common in the future. The rapid development of fourth-generation district heating and cooling solutions is also vital for the climate.
- We are honored to be involved in such a pioneering project that introduces complex systems and develops concrete technology for a better future. This kind of technology really solves climate challenges, Hartman concludes.
Turku Student Village is an example of a modern district energy ecosystem, where energy companies and customers
work closely together and energy is produced in a decentralized manner