Analyzing national and local pathways to carbon-neutrality from technology, emissions, and resilience perspectives—Case of Finland

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The Paris Climate Accord calls for urgent CO 2 reductions. Here we investigate low and zero carbon pathways based on clean electricity and sector coupling. Effects from different spatialities are considered through city and national cases (Helsinki and Finland). The methodology employs techno-economic energy system optimization, including resilience aspects. In the Finnish case, wind, nuclear, and biomass coupled to power-to-heat and other flexibility measures could provide a cost-effective carbon-neutral pathway (annual costs −18%), but nuclear and wind are, to some extent, exclusionary. A (near) carbon-neutral energy system seems possible even without nuclear (−94% CO 2 ). Zero-carbon energy production benefits from a stronger link to the broader electricity market albeit flexibility measures. On the city level, wind would not easily replace local combined heat and power (CHP), but may increase electricity export. In the Helsinki case, a business-as-usual approach could halve emissions and annual costs, while in a comprehensive zero-emission approach, the operating costs (OPEX) could decrease by 87%. Generally, electrification of heat production could be effective to reduce CO 2 . Low or zero carbon solutions have a positive impact on resilience, but in the heating sector this is more problematic, e.g., power outage and adequacy of supply during peak demand will require more attention when planning future carbon-free energy systems.


Original languageEnglish
Article number949
Number of pages22
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Carbon neutrality, Energy system modelling, Photovoltaics, Renewable energy, Sector coupling, Urban energy, Wind power

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