Peer-learning visit #4 – Turku, the oldest city in Finland

Is the oldest city in Finland ready for new mobility solutions and the challenges of the transition to electromobility? That is what 30 participants from different cities in Europe had the opportunity to find out during USER-CHI peer-learning visit in Turku on 26 and 27 April. 

Representatives from Barcelona, Budapest, Berlin, Florence, Murcia, Braga, Hannover as well as other European project partners shared ideas and challenges, swapping notes over common challenges and solutions over a two-day peer-learning visit.

Turku’s transition to sustainable future

After arrival, the hosts from the city of Turku gave a warm welcome to the participants and described some of the city’s mobility visions and challenges. The city aims to be carbon neutral by 2029 and for that, they need to cut their transport-related emissions in half. In this context, by 2030 Turku aims to increase the modal share of the sustainable means of transport to more than 66%.

To achieve these ambitious sustainability goals, Turku has developed several strategic documents, for example, the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), the City Strategy, the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan, and the Circular Economy Plan. Each of these documents describes the city’s strategic ambitions and the pathways to achieving them from a unique point of view, which results in overlapping, intertwining and sometimes clashing issues. Turku is now trying to select the most coherent measures to integrate them in the SUMP and SULP (Sustainable Urban Logistics Plan) that are under development, to implement them in a more efficient way and use these as reference documents. At the same time, Turku seeks to reorganise its Mobility Services department to be more efficient in implementing a coherent and holistic mobility strategy.

Turku has many projects in the pipeline to improve its sustainable mobility offer for the citizens: the city works on improving the biking infrastructure; increasing customer satisfaction with their public transport company, Föli and creating new public transport offers to increase the use of public transport and they manage an online service mobility map showing services related to mobility and leisure from both the City of Turku and other service providers in the area. Mobility is also included in the Circular Turku roadmap, a framework for concrete interventions that will lead the Turku region toward resource wisdom. Electric mobility and supporting services for the better use of energy are part of this roadmap, supported by USER-CHI products such as SMAC and INCAR or INSOC, by offering energy efficiency and promoting the use of renewable energy in transport.

Electric Turku – the past and the future

The visit’s hosts from Turku’s Mobility department provided an overview of the city’s electromobility.

Turku has a long history of promoting the electrification of transport. The city took part in an international project in 1995 and purchased two electric vans. In 1999, there were already 13 public electric charging points around the city. In 2016, the first fully electric bus line started operating by Föli, making Turku the first Finnish city to electrify the operation of an entire bus line. The city ferry was electrified in 2017.

To better organise the rolling out of electric mobility and charging infrastructure in the future, the city is drafting an electric mobility masterplan. The goal is to identify obstacles, challenges and support factors that will impact the future of electric mobility. Finland is facing some specific challenges when it comes to boosting electromobility and deploying a reliable charging infrastructure – as a vast country with only 5,5 million people, they need to cater to a lot of small settlements with big distances between them. Furthermore, Finnish harsh winters can bring temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius, which significantly impacts the distance travelled on a single charge of EV batteries. The electric mobility masterplan initiates a dialogue between e-mobility stakeholders and builds on Turku’s success factors so far. USER-CHI planning tool CLICK will be used to locate the charging points and complement the results of the survey.

USER-CHI solutions in Turku

The local partners (TVT, Turku Energia and VASO) in charge of the implementation and demonstration of USER-CHI products in Turku took the participants on a demo sites tour with an electric bus. ​​​​​​​The participants had the opportunity to witness first-hand how the different stakeholders involved worked together to offer good coverage of the city to demonstrate the solutions. Charging infrastructure deployed on 4 demonstration sites will offer electric charging to different types of users: 

  • The INSOC charging solution will be installed in the venue of TVT housing company, offering the tenants the possibility to park and charge their electric bike;
  • 20 innovative medium-quick (22kW) chargers equipped with demand management and connected to the building’s own smart power control are deployed at Turku harbour;
  • 6 charging points in the parking hall, equipped with demand management and connected to the solar panels located on the roof will be available to the tenants of the new apartment buildings of VASO housing company; 
  • Six innovative medium-quick (22kW) chargers equipped with demand management are now installed and ready to use for the workers of Turku Energia HQ. 

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