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Sustainable plot planned for a major data centre in Kirkkonummi – excess heat to provide district heating for up to 80,000 homes

A local detailed plan for a major data centre is being planned in Kirkkonummi in cooperation between the landowner, the municipality and an energy company. The waste heat of the data centre is intended to be used for district heating production, which will cut carbon emissions remarkably in Finland’s capital region.

The energy company Fortum, the municipality of Kirkkonummi and the landowner EKE-Rakennus Oy together promote the establishment of a new kind of data centre in Kirkkonummi. The preparation of the detailed plan for the Kolabacken area began with Fortum’s idea and the initiative of the landowner and support from the municipality. Sweco acts as the planning consultant to the project.“We wanted to ensure sufficient resources and knowhow for the planning project in every situation,” explains Tea Ekengren-Saurén, the chair of the board at EKE. “Sweco was able to offer us specialists for both land use planning and the data centre reference plan.”The plan draft was completed in three months, although the plan covers a land area of roughly 122 hectares and building rights of 387,000 square metres. “Our shared vision was that this is not just a planning project, but a nationally significant measure in order to reduce carbon footprint,” Ekengren-Saurén says.

Sweco has a framework agreement with Kirkkonummi, meaning that cooperation with the municipality’s planning authorities was already familiar. “Kirkkonummi would like to promote nationally significant projects, and cooperation with the authorities has been exemplary,” states Land Use Planning Architect Sanukka Lehtiö from Sweco.

Data centre would cut capital region’s carbon emissions remarkably

Kirkkonummi is a member of the HINKU network of carbon neutral municipalities, and the future data centre operator will be obliged to use emissions-free energy. The plan also recommends the use of solar panels in the area, and the waste heat of the data centre will be utilised sustainably.

Fortum is committed to closing its coal-fired Suomenoja power plant by 2025, meaning that the waste heat of the data centre will act as a replacement energy source.

“The data centre of about 100 MW would produce district heating for around 80,000 houses, which would cut the CO2 emissions of Espoo, Kirkkonummi and Kauniainen with about 300,000 tonnes,” Ekengren-Saurén explains.

Land use planning can support responsible construction

The planning project was a complex job, but at the same time an exceptionally straightforward task. “The project is an excellent example of how land use planning can provide a responsible plot for operations,” Lehtiö says. ”Kolabacken in Kirkkonummi is an exceptionally unified uninhabited land area at the intersection of Länsiväylä and Ring III roads with exiting district heating and electricity networks.”

The nature in the area is mainly bare forest land. “All areas with significant natural values were left out of the plan or planned for recreational use,” Lehtiö says. A fifth of the plan is made up of recreation areas. “It is easy to reach the natural sites thanks to new pedestrian and bicycle routes and public transport stops.”

The plan draft is available to the public during the summer. Responses to the opinions will be given in August–September. “We hope that the plan proposal will reach the approval stage by February 2021,” Lehtiö says.