Groundbreaking district heating system reduces carbon emissions by 80%

A cutting-edge district heating system in Spain will potentially reduce CO2 emissions in local neighbourhoods by 80%, a significant development for combatting climate change.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the need to urgently reduce our use of fossil fuels has thrown the global energy mix into crisis, forcing countries worldwide to pioneer alternative methods to meet energy demands. Now, Spanish researchers are developing a community heating system that promises to slash carbon emissions.

Located in Pamplona’s Txantrea neighbourhood, the new district heating system will help to power thousands of homes in the local area sustainably, helping the region to achieve carbon-neutral goals. The project is part of an initiative to innovate smarter energy systems to power the transition to clean energy and adopt neighbourhood regeneration and environmental sustainability in both Pamplona and throughout Spain.

The low-emissions district heating system is scheduled to go live in the second quarter of 2023 when NASUVINSA and contracted company ENGIE complete building of the entire infrastructure.

How will the heating system be developed?

The district heating system has been provided with a total investment of €13.7m. NASUVINSA and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will finance €6.8 of the project, with the remaining €6.9m being funded by ENGIE, who will be in charge of operating the plant for a 36-year period.

The innovative heating system and equipment will occupy a building that is modulated in three consecutive cubic volumes and will be constructed on a publicly owned plot on an industrial estate situated between Pamplona and Burlada, next to a health facility.

Due to the project including a public-private management model, it provides a benchmark for other initiatives across Spain. The model comprises public procurement tender for the development and operation of the power plant and heat system, including the commercialisation of the heating system by ENGIE.

How much will carbon emissions be reduced by?

Once the heating system is fully operational, it will centrally produce enough hot water to supply more than half the homes in the district. The first stage of the work is being completed and is already supplying 2,200 homes.

The second phase of the project will power a further 2,300 homes. The heating system will not only help to fuel the local community but will help supply nearby public buildings run by the local and regional councils.

By replacing the community’s existing communal boilers with a centralised hot water production system using biomass, the CO2 emissions will be drastically decreased by around 7,000 tonnes per year – representing a reduction of 80% compared to current levels.

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