District heating systems can provide higher efficiencies and better pollution control than individual plants and boilers. According to some research, district heating with combined heat and power (CHPDH) is the cheapest method of cutting carbon emissions, and has one of the lowest carbon footprints of all fossil generation plants.
COLTERM Timisoara, is one of the most efficient and sustainable urban district heating operators in Romania. GM Emil Serpe, young Engineer with a MSc in business management, told us: “Most important role we fulfil is contributing to well-being and health of the citizens. Our services are vital for the protection of environment. Cities that liquidated their district heating systems started encountering environment challenges soon after closing their plants. Most major European cities, plan to implement restrictions for Diesel and even petrol engines soon. Nobody talks, however, about the pollution generated by individual heating plants”.
Ambitious Refurbishment Plans
Significant investments in infrastructure were made in 2007-2008 when several cogeneration plants were installed around the city, and in 2019, COLTERM managed to complete all auxiliary and commissioning works having now two cogeneration plants running with others to follow soon.
GM Emil Serpe is adamant to pursue an ambitious investment plan with using EU Structural Funds. He says: “In May 2019, we signed a EUR30 million financing contract via the Large Infrastructure Operational Programme (LIOP), which will enable us to refurbish about 10% of our heating network. We are working on increasing the financing through LIOP up to 50 million and we have plans for a second financing stage also for infrastructure. In 2019, using funds from the City of Timisoara, we commissioned a solar power plant aimed to provide the hot water throughout the summer to the entire city. We have a great track record of successful projects implemented using European Funds with measurable results regarding the carbon foot-print reduction which will benefit all EU citizens as, in the end we breathe the same air”.
Besides LIOP, Colterm is exploring other funding sources from institutional investors such as EBRD. Emil Serpe: “We sent a project for review for refurbishment of a part of our network, to implement a modern Western-European system which uses individual thermal modules for each location.”
Investment Opportunities in Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency’s investment potential is well known. According to the latest Energy Efficiency market outlook report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), “one factor favouring greater levels of investment is the replicable and scalable nature of energy efficiency projects that have predictable returns and can be aggregated to appeal to third-party financiers.” District heating offers many opportunities for such investments and, COLTERM, having a great track record in building successful projects, can become an attractive partner. GM Emil Serpe says: “We are inviting reliable investors to explore with us the opportunity of setting-up companies for energy efficiency, where we can provide all the necessary infrastructure, logistics and local know-how.”
Achievements of COLTERM and ambitious plans for future refurbishment and modernization prove the commitment of Timisoara Municipality to provide a clean environment and modern district heating services to its citizens, tourists, business travellers. GM Emil Serpe concludes: “Timisoara has grown a lot in the past years and, in 2021, it will shine more than many other European Capitals of Culture ever did”.