A new large geothermal district heating network being established in Chaves, Portugal

A new large geothermal district heating network being established in Chaves, Portugal Chaves, Portugal (source: flickr/ vitor107 - Vitor Oliveira, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 3 Feb 2020

Utilising an aquifer, the city of Chaves in Northern Portugal is planning to heat up to 25 public buildings with geothermal energy.

The city of Chaves in the northern tip of Portugal near the border to Spain is preparing to create the largest urban “geothermal” heat network in mainland Portugal, as reported locally.

In a first phase, the planned pilot project will cover a total of 25 buildings benefiting from a clean and renewable energy source. The Mayor of Chaves, Nuno Vaz, explained that the network will serve 25 public and private buildings, which will be supplied with heat through geothermal, thanks to the use of thermal water that rises in the municipality between 66 and 77 degrees centigrade.

According to project data, with 25 buildings heated in this way, the emission of up to 1,300 tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) per year can be avoided.

The pilot project, with an estimated investment of EUR 850,000, co-financed in about 80% by an innovation support fund, has an execution period of one year and is scheduled to start during 2020.

In the last week of January 2020, the Financial Incentive Contract for the Promotion of the use of geothermal energy was signed, in the presence of the Assistant Secretary of State for Energy, João Galamba, followed by a visit to the catchment sites the thermal water and the geothermal use system of the Hotel IBIS Styles, which constitutes the most recent connection to the current geothermal network.

“We need to create more sustainable territories in the economic, environmental and demographic dimensions,” said Nuno Vaz.

Nuno Vaz says that the geothermal process in mainland Portugal really started in Chaves, but “inefficiently”, with four buildings in the city currently being heated in this way.

The socialist mayor also recalls that currently, in thermal water used in treatments, heat must be removed, consuming energy for this.
Thus, the objective is to obtain a “double efficiency”, avoiding the “expenditure of energy to remove heat from the water, but also to take advantage of that heat to heat buildings atmospherically”.

“Chaves gives its best contribution, as far as its capabilities are concerned”, stressed the Assistant Secretary of State for Energy, referring that “the national project does not advance if all territories do not make their contributions. The country needs everyone ”. Joao Galamba stated that the Government will have every interest in expanding this network, possibly extending it to private individuals, in order to enhance the water resource.

In Chaves, the use of geothermal energy is already used in five facilities: in the thermal complex, in the Municipal Pool, in two hotel units and in a geriatric center in the city.

“The use of thermal water, normally used for leisure or thermal treatments, can be used for other purposes and has an energy use, replacing the use of other energy sources, usually fossils”, stressed Joao Galamba.

For the government official, unlike other countries, where the energy transition is “a threat” to his lifestyle, economy or resources, in Portugal it is “the exact opposite”.

“It is an opportunity for the whole country, and for each of the territories, for the territories to know how to take advantage of the resources they have. In the south it will be more wind and sun, in Chaves it will also be wind and sun more geothermal ”, he exemplified.

João Galamba also stressed that projects such as the geothermal project in Chaves will be supported by the Government in the same way as the solar, wind or hydrogen projects.

“There is national and European funding for this, and there is a will in these territories to work on this resource”, he shot.

Source: Diario Atual