Innovation Camp in Oulu 

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Oulu, November 2023

From November 15 to 17, the MAKING CITY project hosted its inaugural innovation camp in Oulu, known as the POWER UP YOUR CITY summit. This event brought together a diverse range of stakeholders, including project partners, city representatives, energy experts, technology providers, scientists, and local citizens. The central focus was on exploring pragmatic approaches to adopting carbon-free energy solutions and fostering positive change in urban environments. A pivotal element of the discussions centered around the transformative concept of Positive Energy Districts (PEDs) and their potential to establish sustainable and energy-positive communities.

During the POWER UP YOUR CITY summit, our objective was to deliver a comprehensive understanding of PEDs and equip participants with the knowledge and tools necessary for this transformative journey. Drawing insights from the experiences of MAKING-CITY lighthouses in Oulu, Finland, and Groningen, Netherlands, we delved into PED implementation, shared best practices, and discussed lessons learned. In this article, we provide a condensed overview of the event, highlighting key insights and outcomes derived from this collaborative initiative.

From Inception to Innovation: The MAKING-CITY PED in Oulu

The morning sessions, led by Sari Matinheikki and Dr. Sari Hirvonen-Kantola, offered a retrospective look at the origin of the six-year project. They presented the storytelling and inception of the MAKING-CITY EU project, with an introduction to the project by our coordinator, Cecilia Sanz Montalvillo from CARTIF.

The Oulu Lighthouse and Positive Energy District (PED) approach and development were elucidated by Samuli Rinne and Klaus Kansala. They also highlighted PED best practices, accompanied by a panel of sister projects featuring Prof. Eva Pongracz, Mari Hukkalainen (SPARCSeu), and Kelly Riedesel (+CityxChange).

To conclude the morning, Samuli Rinne and Dr. Sari Hirvonen-Kantola wrapped up discussions on Oulu’s PED implementation, providing valuable insights into the replication process.

Afternoon Workshops and Business Model Insights at the POWER UP YOUR CITY Summit

In the afternoon, the focus shifted to engaging workshops, specifically honing in on capacity building and stakeholder engagement strategies. Facilitated by Juha-Antti Rankinen, Dr. Sari Hirvonen-Kantola, and Samuli Rinne, these sessions aimed to enhance participants’ understanding and skills in these critical areas.

Following the workshops, the session transitioned to a thorough examination of Oulu’s Positive Energy District (PED) Business Model Comparative Analysis. This in-depth analysis was conducted under the guidance of Prof. Petri Ahokangas and Prof. Harri Haapasalo, marking a substantial step towards wrapping up the insights gained on the first day of the event.

It was a very rich and sharing day including implementing innovative energy solutions, enabling long-term city transformation, fostering collaborative stakeholder engagement and promoting knowledge exchange between cities 

Exploring Innovation on Day 2: Technical Visits to Kaukovainio’s Positive Energy District

On the second day, our focus turned to immersive technical visits to innovative sites in Kaukovainio, just 3km from Oulu center. Six key buildings underwent a remarkable transformation to become part of the Positive Energy District (PED), encompassing rental and private apartments, a supermarket, and a multipurpose building.

The PED strategy revolves around integrating efficient heat pumps with recovery systems that utilize excess heat from refrigeration machines, exhaust air, and return water. This surplus heat is strategically directed into the district heating system, providing energy to neighboring PED buildings through a transfer pipeline that intricately links all PED structures. This pipeline serves as the core component, meticulously overseeing the distribution and balance of energy within the PED.

The visit proved to be highly insightful for all participants, offering a firsthand look at feasible and scalable solutions demonstrated in the Kaukovainio district. For a more in-depth exploration of the Oulu Positive Energy District, we invite you to view our video here.

For those fortunate enough to stay through the weekend, it presented a unique opportunity to witness the commencement of the Lumo Light Festival in Oulu. This multi-disciplinary festival actively seeks impressive installations and innovative video mappings, with a special focus on proposals designed for outdoor spaces.

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