Thermal water heating in Budapest Zoo
The operators of thermal bathes generally need to cool the thermal water before use. Instead of the costly and energy intensive cooling it is worth to use the excess energy for space heating. A thermal water heating system was established in 2012 in the Budapest Zoo. The system uses the heat of the thermal water of the neighbouring Széchenyi Bath for the heating of the facilities in the area of the zoo. The initiative was realized as a result of a collaboration of three institutions or companies, the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool, the Budapest Zoo and the Budapest District Heating Works Co. Ltd. The costs of thermal water space heating are 20-30% lower compared to gas heating.
Hungary has excellent conditions for utilizing thermal water resources. This is partly due to the fact that in the Carpathian Basin the bedrock is thinner than in large parts of Europe and as a result the ascending heat flow is more powerful than the average. Furthermore a large amount of water as a heat-retaining medium is trapped in between the rocks, consequently for energy use simply this water with higher heat content has to be extricated and led to the surface.
A thermal water heating system was established in 2012 in the Budapest Zoo. The system uses the heat of the thermal water of the neighbouring Széchenyi Bath for the heating of the facilities in the area of the zoo. The initiative was realized as a result of a collaboration of three institutions or companies, the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool, the Budapest Zoo and the Budapest District Heating Works Co. Ltd.
The level of the annual gas consumption of the Budapest Zoo was significant prior to the installation of the new system, as the heating season is longer for numerous facilities– e.g. the buildings accommodating the tropical plants and animals – compared to residential and commercial buildings. Furthermore many species require higher average temperatures than human beings. In 2010 more than 800 thousand cubic meter gas was consumed in the zoo costing nearly HUF 100 million (EUR 360 thousand).
As a part of the investment a heat exchanger unit was installed in the area of the bath. A pair of insulated district heating pipes starts from here which connects 14 buildings of the zoo via a substation located in the basement of the Elephant house. The pipeline system has a total length of 2,000 km.
As the energy demand corresponding to the required interior air temperature varies depending on the open-air temperature, in practice the institution uses thermal water space heating to ensure the basic, continuous heating. In extreme cold weather additionally gas boilers, which have been kept as safety reserves, support the space heating.
The new system supplies 80.000 cubic meter air space in 26 buildings with thermal heat providing for several thousand plants and for around one and half thousand animals/colonies suitable air temperatures.
The investment costing HUF 395 million (EUR 1.4 million) was funded by European Union under the European Regional Development Fund.
Barriers and drivers
Because of the high investment costs necessary for setting up the heating system, normally external funding is needed for starting up of the operation. Compared to the normal operation of a thermal bath, the water need is much higher if thermal water is used for space heating. Therefore additional wells need to be drilled. Furthermore thermal water used for space heating must be returned to the ground.
The cooperation is beneficial for all three parties; the Budapest Zoo, the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool, and the Budapest District Heating Works Co. Ltd. The zoo can cover the larger part of its heat demand with significantly cheaper and safer energy use reducing its costs, as depending on the weather, the gas consumption can be cut by half. The Széchenyi Thermal Bath can save a substantial part of the amount spent on water and electricity charges associated with the mandatory cooling of the thermal water and can realize an income after the delivered energy. Through supporting the initiative the Budapest District Heating Works Co. Ltd. strengthens its sustainable energy supply profile.
The costs of thermal water space heating are 20-30% lower compared to gas heating. The thermal heating system of the Budapest Zoo was realized under the economic development programme of the Hungarian government, the New Széchenyi Plan with the support of ERDF. The total budget of the project is HUF 395 million (EUR 1.4 million), out of which HUF 237 million (60%) is granted by the European Union, HUF 39 million is the co-financing provided by the Budapest Zoo and HUF 118 million was made available by the Municipality of Budapest as a refundable subsidy.
As a consequence of the approximately 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions reduction the institution saves quota units in the carbon emissions trading scheme.
E. Csepe. Ezzel nem fürödnek be. Zöld Ipar Magazin. December 2011, p 14-15.
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