Geothermal in Szeged, Hungary has reduced heating bills

Geothermal in Szeged, Hungary has reduced heating bills Szeged, Hungary (source: flickr/ Emmanuel Dyan, creative commons)
Carlo Cariaga 2 Dec 2022

Residents in Szeged, Hungary are already reaping the benefits of geothermal district heating with reduced heating bills despite soaring energy costs in Europe.

Residents in Szeged, Hungary are already benefitting from reduced heating bills because of geothermal heating. This is the culmination of work on a geothermal heating network in Szeged that started in 2017 ans has been described as a “blueprint for other European cities.”

A Reuters article features the story of Szeged resident Balasz Veres and his family. In March, the family moved to one of the flats being supplied by the district’s geothermal heating network. Even with double the living space, the family ended up paying only half the utility bills compared to their older flat.

We first reported on the development of an ambitious geothermal district heating network in Szeged back in 2019. With an investment of HUF 22 billion (around EUR 67m), the project aimed to supply renewable and inexpensive heat to more than 27,000 flats and displace 27 million cubic meters of natural gas. A more recent update provides details on the existing network that consists of 27 wells, 16 heating plants, and 250 kilometers of heat distribution network.

Water at 92 to 93 degrees Celsius is hosted in the basin around Szeged at a depth of about 2000 meters. Heat exchangers  adjacent to the wells extract the heat from the geothermal water so the the geothermal water itself does not circulate through the pipes of the distribution network.

“The goal is to replace half of the entire fossil fuel-based energy use (with geothermal),” said Balazs Kobor, managing director of Szegedi Tavfuto Kft, the utility company in Szeged.

The luxury of reduced heating bills due to geothermal is still very much a rarity in Hungary. The country sources about 80% of its annual gas consumption and 65% of its oil supplies from Russia. According to figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy supplies 14.8% of Hungary’s energy consumption, with only 5% of that coming from geothermal.

In 2021, Hungary joined France, Germany, Switzerland, Iceland, Turkiye, and the Netherlands in offering a state-supported insurance scheme for geothermal projects. Under the program, the Hungarian Ministry of Innovation and Technology will cover the geological risks of the first geothermal wells.

Source: Reuters