Olot’s Smart Power Grid. An urban restructuring project with renewable energy and an important social and environmental approach

The DHC network project in Olot town city arose from the need to reduce consumption in the construction sector and its associated emissions. This urban restructuring project, which goes by the name of Xarxa Espavilada, has resulted in the construction of the first DHC network that is exclusively powered by renewable energy – geothermal, PV and biomass, and as such represents a step forward in the transition towards a carbon neutral city. One crucial element of the project’s development was the joint work and collaboration on the initiative by public entities (the Olot Town Hall) and private companies (Gas Natural Fenosa-Wattia Innova joint venture), to find a solution offering significant social and environmental benefits, as highlighted by the President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, during the project’s inauguration last 3 March. A few days later the project received the Catalonian Government’s 2017 Award for Energy Excellence.

Creating new energy generation and distribution points within the city forms part of the great transition towards low carbon cities. Centralised production and consumer proximity, adapting the sources to the context both as regards supply and demand, is very much a feature of the Olot project, where consumption (depending on times of day and amounts) has resulted in a balanced production from geothermals, PV and biomass; resulting in 93% of the primary energy consumed by the grid coming from renewable sources.

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The placement of the plant inside an existing building, the former Sant Jaume hospital, supports the very important role played by building refurbishment in the energy transition.Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY March 2017