OXFAM Fair Trade: Batteries for PV self-consumption in HQ office building

The Oxfam Fair Trade headquarter (HQ), an office building located in Ghent, Belgium, has an annual energy consumption of 66,649 kWh of which 43% is covered by 306 photovoltaic solar panels in a surface of 1,456m², with a total capacity of 83 kWp. To increase its self-consumption, and reduce its consumption from the grid, Ampere Energy has installed three Tower S batteries, allowing the photovoltaic solar panels to cover up to 70% of Oxfam headquarters’ annual energy demand.

Fact sheet

  • Company: OXFAM Fair Trade
  • Location: Ghent (Belgium)


  • 4,800 kg CO2 emission reduction per year
  • Maximisation of the building’s self-consumption
  • Economic savings in the electricity bill
  • Oxfam is more socially responsible for trying to reduce its environmental impact

Fair trade and social responsibility

Since 1995, Oxfam functions as an international confederation composed of 20 non-governmental organisations (affiliates) working in almost 100 countries to fight against poverty and injustice. Every year its affiliates develop specific programmes helping more than 18 million people worldwide. One of the actions taken to fight against poverty and injustice implies equal trade relations for which reaching fair trade is a very important aspect. In this sense, Oxfam offers fair trade products supporting cooperatives and farmers, which is managed by the Oxfam Fair Trade headquarter located in Ghent. For Oxfam, social responsibility is a term that is related to Fair Trade because it involves making decisions that take into account, among other things, the environmental impact of its actions.

Oxfam offers fair trade products supporting cooperatives and farmers, which is managed by the Oxfam Fair Trade headquarter located in Ghent. For Oxfam, social responsibility is a term that is related to Fair Trade because it involves making decisions that take into account, among other things, the environmental impact of its actions.

Oxfam’s Ghent HQ has a PV plant for which Ampere Energy installed a storage system in April 2019, initially as a pilot in the WiseGRID initiative, helping to increase its self-consumption. Excluding the direct consumption from solar generation, the equipment of Ampere provides 27% of the total energy demand. These batteries, which are the model Tower S 12.5, are made up of lithium-ion cells, with 5 kW of rated power and 12 kWh of capacity (36 kWh in total) and have an estimated lifetime of around 17 years. Ampere has also integrated a new energy management system with advanced functionalities that helps maximise the building’s self-consumption.

An H2020 pilot turned reality – the European WiseGRID initiative

The storage system installed by Ampere was part of a pilot project under the European WiseGRID initiative in which two main challenges were pursued: making the most of self-consumption, increasing the energy independence of the building especially in hours without solar generation, and assessing storage possibilities in self-consumption systems, designing demand management price signals for customers. The Belgian cooperative Ecopower, partner of the WiseGRID Project consortium and in charge of supplying electricity to Oxfam, wanted to evaluate the possibilities of incorporating storage into the self-consumption facilities in the face of an imminent change of legislation in Belgium with the disappearance of bonuses for renewable energies.

Because of this, the three batteries were installed (initially as prototypes) at a total value of 30,000€ (under 1,000 EUR/kWh). The installation incorporated a new version of the battery power manager (developed by Ampere), which allows for remote management by an external application -in this case, a Virtual Power Plant-, to provide battery capacity to power grid balancing and adjustment services. This component, in the WiseGRID project, is called “Storage as a Service Virtual Power Plant” (Staas/VPP).

After validation of the pilot’s goal of integration into a VPP (in particular the one developed during the WiseGRID project) and its functionalities, the batteries remained in Oxfam’s installation as an active element to maximise the building’s self-consumption rate.

In terms of differences between the pilot and the resulting final installation, no relevant differences have been identified. Oxfam enjoys the advantages of the batteries installed by Ampere from the very first day of its implementation, with the possible interferences caused by the different flexibility service provision tests performed during the pilot.

The payback period foreseen in the initial study is 9 years if an electricity tariff without hourly discrimination is considered. With a different hourly rate, the economic benefit could increase, reducing the payback period. In addition, other revenues can be generated from the participation in energy markets, such as balancing services and flexible markets for demand management. Through the integration into a virtual storage facility, these batteries can modify their intended base behaviour to provide demand management or frequency regulation services, obtaining financial compensation for it, which would further decrease the payback period.

The intricacies of Ampere’s Integrated Energy Management System

The Ampere batteries work autonomously thanks to the built-in Energy Management System (EMS) entirely developed by the company. The new EMS includes different functionalities to maximise the building’s self-consumption:

  • Arbitration: depending on the contracted hourly discrimination tariff and using a demand forecast based on historical energy consumption, the EMS charges the battery in the cheapest hours and discharges it for consumption during the most expensive hours.
  • Self-consumption maximisation: in combination with a generation source (the PV plant), Ampere’s systems can be managed by a single device through direct connection between the hybrid inverter of solar generation and the batteries. This allows the EMS to autonomously decide, and based on optimisation, when to charge and discharge batteries throughout the day to make the most of solar generation, achieving higher levels of self-consumption and energy independence. If we add the arbitrage functionality to this, a considerable economic saving is achieved in the electricity bill for the customer.
  • Peak shaving: Ampere Energy’s equipment can limit power demand from the grid to a certain value above which the batteries would go into action to provide the extra consumption needed. This functionality could lead to significant economic savings.
  • Backup power line: possibility to connect a backup supply line, to maintain the power supply in case of incidents in the grid.
  • Feed into the grid: it allows to limit, at the user’s will, the amount of energy they can feed into the grid, from 100% of the available energy to zero
  • Remote management for Virtual Power Plant integration: the storage system installed in Oxfam was the first to have the remote management functionality for integration into the Virtual Power Plant developed in the WiseGRID project (Staas/VPP). This virtual storage plant can request to use the batteries punctually during the day to participate in grid services, considering that the alteration of the expected behaviour of the battery yields an economic benefit for the prosumer. In addition, Ampere Energy has its own virtual plant, called Amperia, currently in its last phase of development, which will serve as an integrator of all Ampere equipment in self-consumption facilities, being able to offer aggregated services of balance and flexibility where the legislation allows it.

In this last functionality, demand management can be both direct and indirect. In the direct mode there are no price signals, but a direct order of variation of the power delivered by the batteries, both to consume and to feed into the grid, for a certain period. This order is sent from the virtual plant, either the Staas/VPP plant or, in the future, Amperia.

The indirect modality would be through price signals. The EMS allows pricing by Real-Time Pricing (RTP), with variable energy prices for all hours of the day. Similarly, an energy supplier can design specific variable price signals for demand management and send them to Ampere equipment, which will vary their planning, accordingly, automatically seeking the greatest possible economic savings for the prosumer.

What the developers learnt through Oxfam’s project

It is very important to consider the exploitation model, the return on investment and the legislation related to energy and tariff schemes in each country when sizing and valuing an installation of this type, which includes self-consumption and storage with a high percentage of energy fed into the grid. Even if there are common European Union directives, the fact is that their transposition by each Member State gives rise to scenarios that may be very different across countries. In this regard, the collaboration with Oxfam was of great importance, as they allowed Ampere to make a previous on-site visit to see first-hand the facilities and assess the connection point. It was also important the collaboration with the cooperative Ecopower, as they are aware of the conditions that apply in Belgian legislation for self-consumption installations and energy feed into de grid.

Therefore, it is essential to establish close cooperation with local actors, who know first-hand the objectives that can be achieved and will benefit from the advantages offered by the installed storage systems. In the case of Ampere Energy, they had the advice and assistance from their Belgian partner Bernard Cernuta, CEO of New Technology.

Text: Creara (Madrid)
Content provider: Ampere Energy

ILUNION: Moving towards a sustainable fleet

ILUNION swapped 8 of their diesel vehicles for EVs (Electric Vehicles) and another 14 for LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) vehicles.

Fact sheet

  • Company: ILUNION Sociosanitario (Healthcare)
  • Location: Madrid (Spain)


  • 25 tCO2 emission reduction per year from the EVs and 15 tCO2 emission reduction from the LPG vehicles

Sustainable Mobility project

ILUNION is a unique business model conceived from the perspective of and for people, the goal of which is to create quality employment for people with disabilities. The best way to achieve this goal is to develop and professionalize profitable and sustainable lines of business that offer a specialized, comprehensive and high value service. At the end of the year 2018, ILUNION employed 35,800 people and 41.3% (14,798) of them were people with disabilities. Moreover, attesting to diversity as one of their most important values is the fact that over 55% of their staff are women and nearly 5% of different nationalities.

Through its five divisions, ILUNION is present in the most competitive business sectors: industrial laundry, facility services, hotels, contact centres, social and health services, industrial services, consultancy and a host of others. Their five divisions cover over 50 lines of business, all with the clear goal in mind of offering increasingly more comprehensive services for their clients to position them as a global, responsible and quality provider.

Healthcare is a key sector for ILUNION where dedication to people and their care constitutes an essential part of their “raison d’être”. The fact is that this is a growing sector in which services are being updated and where end customers are becoming increasingly more demanding. Social and health care entities, telecare and home help services and retirement homes have increased their presence in Spain in recent years and will continue to do so in the future.

ILUNION Sociosanitario is a company committed to mitigating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Proof of this was the launch of their “Sustainable Mobility” project at the end of 2017. This measure was motivated by the introduction of an improvement which consisted of the implementation of an emission-free fleet, as well as environmentally friendly vehicles. In this way, ILUNION Sociosanitario was the first company in the sector to provide its services with a fleet of electric vehicles. Likewise, through this initiative, ILUNION Sociosanitario became one of the promoters of the “Madrid Anti-Pollution Protocol” even before its entry into force in December 2018, imposing restrictions for those entering the designated low emission zone depending on the emissions of the vehicle. Because of this, they decided to exchange 22 of their diesel vehicles for EVs (Electric Vehicles) and LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) vehicles.

Reduced emissions

ILUNION Sociosanitario (HealthCare) has two work centres, both in the city of Madrid, with a fleet of 14 LPG vehicles and 8 electric vehicles. The EVs are charged only at the recharging points located at the ILUNION Sociosanitario facilities. They use software implemented by CREARA which monitors electricity consumption at each of the existing recharging points. In the case of LPG vehicles, consumption is monitored using SOLRED recharge cards, which provide information on the monthly fuel consumption of each of the vehicles. Based on the above, consumption during 2018 was as indicated in table 1.

In the case of electric vehicles, the model chosen was the Peugeot iON, while for the LPG models the model selected was the Renault Clio. These vehicles were chosen because they are highly adapted to the needs of the service: they respond to the necessary autonomy and are easy to handle and park.

As a result of the acquisition of the eco-friendly fleet, ILUNION Sociosanitario has reduced its emissions by 40 tCO2/year , 25 tCO2 of which are due to the implementation and use of electric vehicles.

EVs (kWh)LPG (l autogas)
Table 1: Cumulatieve vehicle consumption (Source: Creara)

The charging points

ILUNION Sociosanitario contracted Creara to design and execute the installation and commissioning of four double charging points for electric vehicles in the parking area of its offices in Madrid. Creara developed and installed the charging infrastructure, taking into account the particularities of the client’s facilities and their preferences in terms of charging power, performance and client needs. To carry out this action the company had to solve several challenges:

  • Move the fleet location one level up to enable connection. In Albacete Street the headquarters are located on the first floor of the MIZAR building, while the fleet, prior to the start of the project, was located on floor -2 of the building. To avoid the additional costs of rewiring, the recharging stations needed to be installed in close proximity to the main supply sockets of the building, for which it was necessary to authorise the change of location of the fleet from floor -2 to floor -1.
  • Complete makeover of the distribution box. At the Caramuel Street headquarters it was necessary to change the electrical panel. This was due to the fact that the required electrical protections that needed to be incorporated in the box did not fit in the installed one. For safety reasons a new one had to be put in place, to meet the required standards in this regard.

The contract awarded to Creara for the installation of the charging points included the installation and commissioning of four wall box charging points, each with two charging points according to IEC 62196-2, commonly referred to as Mennekes, as well as a controller that:

  • Analyses if all the elements are correctly connected before enabling the beginning of the load, in order to avoid damages to the vehicle or the installation
  • Manages the permissions for the equipment loads by means of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)
  • Informs by means of an LED pilot light on the state of charge
  • Records energy consumption data and sends it to the managing platform
  • Gives the possibility of connection via SIM card m2m or via Ethernet module

The charging points have a maximum current of 16A and will charge at 230V, which is equivalent to a charging power of 3.6 kW.

Technical advantages

The implementation of the “Sustainable Mobility” project has improved the service in the districts located in Central Madrid. This is because both the electric fleet and the hybrid fleet are exempt from paying parking meters in this area, which results in a faster service.

The vehicles selected are highly adapted to the needs of the service and the operators highlight their easy handling and reliability. In addition, low maintenance means cost savings and greater availability of vehicles to perform services. On the one hand, the company estimates 20% cost savings in the maintenance of their EVs. On the other hand, they are now able to give service to people who live in limited access areas (Central Madrid).

Non-technical benefits

ILUNION is committed to contributing to the fight against climate change through its policy on Corporate Social Responsibility. Among the different lines of action adopted by companies, ILUNION Sociosanitario is committed to mitigating climate change by promoting sustainable mobility to contribute to the rational use of energy in transport. Ilunion Sociosanitario’s ultimate goal is to exchange all their internal combustion engine powered vehicles for EVs or other environmentally friendly vehicles.

Text: Creara (Madrid)
Content provider: ILUNION (Madrid)

Galapagar: The first Town Hall in Madrid to implement an energy system based on geothermal energy

In the municipality of Galapagar, an area of 36 km² with a population of 32,930 inhabitants, Madrid’s most sustainable Town Hall was built. The design and installation of a geothermal heat pump system provides high energy efficiency at a lower cost than conventional heating or cooling systems. The commercial area attached to the town hall building also benefits from the use of the renewable system.

Fact Sheet

  • Company: Galapagar Town Hall
  • Location: Galapagar, Community of Madrid, Spain


  • Savings of 75% in heating and up to 50% in active and passive cooling
  • CO2 emission savings of 50 tons/year
  • 70% economic savings in terms of energy consumption

No more fossil fuels at Town Hall facilities

In 2013, it was decided to build a new Town Hall in Galapagar, as the increase in population in the town had led to an increase in staff in the Town Hall, which meant the old building did not have enough capacity. During the construction of the new building, the possibility of eliminating fossil fuels in the facilities was brought up. As a result, the construction of a thermal energy production plant by means of geothermal energy was proposed. The installation, done by CLYSEMA under an Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) scheme, is the largest geothermal installation in a town hall in Spain, together with the one of Amorebieta (Basque country) and the first in the Community of Madrid.

The Galapagar town hall is one of the most sustainable town halls in Spain in terms of final energy consumption and local production of renewable energy, thanks to the implementation of a geothermal heat pump system.

The installation has been praised by many, and in 2015 it was awarded the prize “the Best Geothermal Installation of the Community of Madrid” by the General Directorate of Industry, Energy and Mines.

Overcoming the challenges of building a sustainable Town Hall

One of the main barriers for this kind of projects is the high initial investment, specially for the public administration. At the time the Town Hall was built, the Spanish Public Administration was going through a period of low expenditure on “non-essentials”. Therefore, one of the novelties of this project lied in the collaboration between a private company (Energy Service Company – ESCO) and the public administration to undertake an environmental protection project. The private company executed the initial investment and operated the facility for 10 years. As the monthly expenditure to payback the ESCO is lower than the savings on the energy bill, the project is profitable for both parties.The total investment added up to EUR 400,000 with a payback period of 10 years.

Another challenge found in the execution of the project was the lack of space for drilling. As a result,in order to achieve the desired power, the low enthalpy geothermal collection had to be designed deeper than it has ever been done in Spain, achieving depths of 200 meter. This technological challenge was successfully overcome by CLYSEMA’s technicians. In geothermal projects such as this one, the process followed for implementation is:

  • First, the desired power is estimated based on expected consumption
  • Based on this, the length of the drills are calculated
  • This, in turn, will result in a calculation which will establish the necessary number of wells

In Galapagar, the last two steps were reverted, as the technicians first calculated the number of needed wells and then estimated the depth needed to obtain the desired power.

When the Town Hall was built, it was decided to also construct an adjancent commercial area for local businesses. The heat pump installed has a power of 100 kW which means that when both the commercial area and the Town Hall are operational at the same time, on the days of greatest demand, 100 kW will not be enough. Consequently, the project included the design of an indoor aerothermal heat pump of 100kW of additional power for those days of greater demand. The aerothermal heat pump was placed in parallel following the scheme designed by the technical team in terms of optimization of consumption, giving priority to the most efficient systems all the time. The system can obtain at specific times a coefficient of performance (COP) higher than 8 and the plant produces 400,000 kWh/year.

Heat is distributed by radiant floor throughout the town hall and the building has five thermostats in five differentiated areas. These thermostats are read to regulate the temperature production, never in detriment of user comfort.

To manage energy consumption, a time control system was implemented for all areas of the building to adapt it to the use of the premises and to avoid waste such as the recirculation of the sanitary hot water, which results in unnecessary expense of both pumping and thermal losses very common in buildings.

At the head of energy efficiency

Glapagar Town Halls’s is an exploitation of a low-enthalpy geothermal resource, so no high-enthalpy, high-pressure geothermal fluids will be used at any time, nor will any water resources be extracted. In this way, a heat exchange takes place between the circulating antifreeze fluid and the ground. In winter, the ground transfers the heat it stores to the fluid and is used for heating, as the geothermal pump raises this temperature with its efficient compressor to more than 55°C if necessary. In summer, the fluid transfers the excess heat from the building to the ground so that cooling is obtained.

The energy and environmental advantages of using this technology are remarkable, since it takes advantage of a widely available renewable resource that also offers great energy efficiency and allows for proven savings of up to 75% in heating mode and 50% in active cooling. In passive cooling, where the circuit fluid cools the building without passing through the heat pump’s compressor, with electricity consumption due exclusively to the circulation pump, the savings are even greater. This significantly reduces CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels for air conditioning.

Thanks to the agreed EPC and the installation of the pumps the following savings are obtained:

  • The annual energy cost for heating and cooling of the new town hall using traditional technologies would have been EUR 60,000/year and at present the cost is 54,000 euros considering that the amortization of the installation executed by CLYSEMA is also being paid.
  • In addition, CO2 emission savings add up to 50 tons /year.

The Town of Galapagar is becoming a reference for its work on achieving energy efficiency through measures such as the installation of a biomass boiler in a local school, the implementation of LED lighting in almost 50% of public lighting, ant he installation of a geothermal system that allows the council savings of more than 70% in the energy field.

Text: Creara (Madrid)
Content provider: Clysema

Grupo Hunosa: District heat from abandoned coal mine

In order to find alternative uses for a mining site that needed to be closed, Grupo Hunosa partnered with the University of Oviedo to study the feasibility of using the 350-meter flooded well as an alternative energy source. Last year, they inaugurated a 2 MW geothermal power plant that will supply heat to public facilities as well as two private communities, providing up to 2,880 MWh/year.

Fact sheet

  • Company: Grupo Hunosa
  • Location: Mieres, Spain


  • 450 tCO2 emission reduction per year
  • EUR 120,000 yearly turnover
  • Development of cutting-edge solution
  • Improvement of the quality and value of the urban area

Heat pumps harness geothermal heat

Grupo Hunosa is a Spanish mining company based in the northern region of Asturias, traditionally specialised in coal mining. Throughout the last decades this sector has experienced a drastic decrease in its workforce, going from more than 25,000 employees in the early 1970s to approximately 700 nowadays. Due to the progressive abandonment of the mining industry in favour of greener energy sources, Hunosa identified the need to diversify their activities.

A strategic plan was set in motion to try to position ourselves as an agent in the energy services sector, leading the way in renewable energy sources and the reactivation of traditional mining spots through a new purpose. After assessing several alternatives for our non-active coal mines, we decided to harness the heat of the mine water as energy source to implement a district heating network.

Abandoned coal mines contain large volumes of water at constant temperatures (increasing with depth by 1-3 °C per 100 m), thanks to their networks of flooded galleries and shafts lying at depths of up to several hundred metres below the surface. Heat pumps can take this geothermal energy and uplift it to a more useful temperature.

In mid-2019, the plant began its exploitation, becoming the largest district heating installation in the country, as the 2 MW provided by the geothermal system were added to a network that was already in place, increasing its total power up to 6 MW.

The project, which required an investment of approximately EUR 1.5 M, has received an incentive from the European Regional Development Fund of EUR 0.5 M; more than 30% of the total. The expected payback is around the 8-year mark, as the expected turnover is EUR 120,000/year. Mieres District Heating’s innovation is a beacon to other agents that might be exploring the possibility of developing renewable energy solutions, as it represents the possibility of developing successful projects repurposing existing technologies. This is achieved through R&D, a joint effort with experts on the field and tailoring the solution to the project’s specifications.

Geothermal energy: ground water at 23°C

The transformation of the Mieres Coal Mine into a district heating network was a complex process. For as long as a coal mine is actively exploited, ground water must be pumped out to lower the water table and to avoid inflowing water in the galleries. The desired soil conditions are achieved by constantly pumping from depths that can go up to 600-1000m. Once the mining exploitation ends, pumps are switched off and the mine gradually fills with ground water. First, the larger mining cavities are filled; then, as the load increases, water starts making its way through the clefts produced by the mining activity; finally, the water fills the ground pores. This flooding process is performed until a security level is reached, so it is assured there is no damage to third parties. Otherwise the flood zones could potentially be impacted, and the situation would be quite difficult to predict as it involves a new aquifer modified by mining activity. Once the baseline pumping level is found, the project can begin to take advantage of the pumped water. Due to the water’s characteristics in terms of quality and temperature (23ºC in this specific case), geothermal energy can be optimally generated.

In order to provide the needed flow to the Mieres district heating system two underwater pumps of 90 kW power were installed, which can pump up to 330 m3/h each, located at depths of 85 and 95 meters under the well´s parapet. Pumped mine water goes through a heat exchanger consisting of three high-end units working in parallel. This allows the mine water to exchange its thermal energy with the clean water that is running through the heat pump’s evaporator.

The heat supply for the district heating network can be found in the building where the extraction machine used to be. Now, the building accommodates two heat pumps working with refrigerant R1234ze, arranged in series and working on counterflow. They are used to heat the water up to the required temperature, reaching up to 2MW of total capacity.

District Heating Network (Source: Hunosa)

District heating: providing heat for communities

District heating is a solution for providing heat and hot water to a cluster of buildings, which can go from a few houses to entire cities. In the case of the Mieres system, a university, a high school, and two independent buildings are connected to the network.

The main advantage of district heating is that the thermal supply needed is produced in a single power plant and then gets distributed to the consumers through pipelines. This technology is based on the principle that large heat production has higher efficiency than a small one. The only need of end-users is a substation in order to adapt the general supply to their own demand.

The network´s structure enables the supplier to produce all the demanded power from a single power plant, which makes it easier to control emissions and maintenance while making the overall production more efficient and, thus, more profitable.  

For district heating networks to be carbon-neutral, there are two options. The first would be to source the heat from renewable energies, usually biomass. The second option would be to use an available heat resource from nature, as is the case with geothermal energy, or from industry, such as the excess heat in metallurgy.

The results: two high temperature and one low temperature heating circuits

The geothermal installation delivers hot water for three circuits at two different temperatures. Two high temperature circuits supply hot water and heating to a university and a high school. This is a breakthrough as heat pumps and refrigerants have been commercially developed, which can raise the water outlet temperature to 75ºC – 80ºC, making it possible to heat buildings whose systems need this temperature range to function properly. Hence, Hunosa adapted their geothermal installation to be able to supply heat to any consumer, even to buildings with conventional heating systems. Then, there is a low temperature circuit that is also used to provide hot water and heating, in this case to two private condominiums. This second system presents broader business opportunities, as it allows the company to access new market segments, helping to improve the overall coefficient of performance of the circuit. Thanks to its innovative setup, the Mieres District Heating system has earned the Global District Heating Award in the Emerging Market category. This prize rewards the successful implementation of a District Energy System in a country that does not yet have an established District Energy market.

The final geothermal installation produces 2 MW that covers 86.5% of the overall energy demand (heat and electricity) from buildings connected to the network. Heating demand is almost completely covered with geothermal energy. In relation to domestic hot water, the geothermal system preheats it only in the heating season (from October to April). Globally this facility supplies roughly 2,880 MWh a year, which translates into an emission reduction of 436 tons CO2 /year as compared to the former individual systems.

The advantages of the system for Mieres

The main benefits the plant has generated for Hunosa and for the Mieres community could be summed up as:

  • Centralized operation and maintenance reduce health risks and ease emissions control.
  • Reduction of the urban heat island effect by avoiding the generation of heat associated with chimneys, cooling towers, etc. This is due to the fact that in District Heating systems, power generation is concentrated at a single point, usually far from populated areas. However, Hunosa’s case is even more efficient, as the heat is dissipated in the mine water that is discharged into the river and not into the atmosphere.
  • More efficient treatment of noise and safety of generating units compared to that of the mine.
  • Easier adaptation to new regulations or requirements. HUNOSA’s diversification activities are framed within the commitments set out in a business plan, which is drawn up in response to a gradual reduction in the company’s traditional activities (coal mining) and a diversification focused on, among other things, the development of renewable energies. The objectives are, essentially, the maintenance of employment, and the industrialisation of the mining regions on which the company is based with activities more in line with more efficient and low emission energy models.
  • Reduction of environmental impact and energy resources consumption by integrating renewable, residual or local energy supplies into the generation mix.
  • Job shift as since the surpluses in employment that the company has due to the closure of the mines must be diverted to other alternative activities of the company. One of these activities is geothermal energy.
  • Reduction of energetic dependency.
Text: Creara (Madrid)
Content provider: Grupo Hunosa

GOURMET: An energy conservation project backed by quality assurance

Under the framework of the Investor Confidence Project, the waste heat of two fast cooling plants are used (by means of heat exchangers in the hot gas tube with partially condensation) to support the heating demand of three ventilation systems located in the immediate vicinity in the engineering room at the top floor of the facility.

Fact sheet

  • Company: GMS GOURMET GmbH
  • Location: Vienna, Austria


  • 190-200 tons of annual CO2 savings
  • Annual energy savings of 635 MWh in natural gas and 135 MWh in electricity

Improving efficiency and standards

GOURMET is the market leader in community catering in Austria and has 1,500 employees. It caters to kindergartens, schools, offices, homes, care centres, hospitals and other organizations and acts as a caterer and private label producer.


“As a responsible company we treat the earth’s natural resources with care and continuously work on improving efficiency and standards.”

— Hannes Hasibar, Managing Director GOURMET

Happy New Year from the future

Where better to celebrate the arrival of the new year then where the energy transition future is already happening?

City of Sønderborg in the southern Denmark has started its journey in December 2018, when the Council approved plan for reducing emissions by 75 per cent by 2025, and kickstart of the  ProjectZero  developing a CO2-netural Sønderborg area by 2029.

With combination of extension of disctict heating network, installing more PVs, windmills and heat pumps to opening new biogas plant, and scrapping of heating with oil furnaces this work is well under way.

Furthermore, Sønderborg ProjectZero is a great practical example of sector integration. Many of the initiatives stars as a dialogue between of wide range of businesses from manufacturing and transport, to tourism and building developers. In addition, this actively involves local government and the community. What we often jaw-jaw in Brussels about energy transition, is live and kicking here in Sønderborg.

For my stay in Sønderborg I choose Alsik hotel that seems the best showcase of the ProjectZero. Combining smart building technologies, energy efficiency and application of range of renewable energy sources, the hotel and spa complex is already 76% CO2 neutral. 

For example, the facade is made out of recycled metal, the concrete used of natural materials, inside of the building equipped with smart energy systems anticipating user behaviour, hot water preprocessing with electro light, and surplus heat storage system for efficient recycling of the energy. With further integration of renewable electricity, such as wind energy from the windmill park Lillebaelt, Alsik aims to become 100% CO2-neutral.

Many of these high ambitions in Sønderborg – to achieve sustainable, efficient and technologies integrated energy future – originate from Danfoss and Mads Clausen Foundation. This is unsurprising, as in my decades of work in sustainable energy advocacy (from district heating at Euroheat & Power, to industrial energy efficiency at EEIP) Danfoss remains one of the leading European companies both in implementing of wide-range of energy technologies, and in supporting sustainable energy advocacy across Europe.

So Happy New Year and well done Sønderborg! I am happy that I can start 2020 – this mythical year for EU energy policy – already from the future.

smartEn launches the Network Tariffs and Taxes Map 2019

This new tool aims to bring visibility on smart energy solutions in the energy system and help identify and overcome the hurdles that are still hindering developments in Europe.

Tariffs, taxes and other levies are key components in the energy policy discussion. After all, they represent a significant share of total energy costs for households – often more than half of their energy bill.

Unfortunately, the current tariff and tax design has been defined in a different age to the one we need in 2020 and beyond. The world is moving towards flexibility and the engagement of decentralized energy users for the integration of variable energy resources.

Current network tariffs, however, often send mixed signals to market participants, not always reflecting the needs of today’s energy system. Beyond this, taxes are typically rigid – blunting relevant price signals from the market or the network.

New advances in concentrated solar power

Clean energy startup Heliogen is developing a promising concentrated solar technology that could produce renewable process heat at extreme temperatures, while China continues its intense program of constructing new CSP plants.

A recent article on the CNN Business website claims that a secretive startup backed by Bill Gates has achieved a solar breakthrough aimed at saving the planet.

The startup is called Heliogen, a clean energy company that says it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000˚C. In essence, they have made an extremely hot solar oven.

Palazzo della Farnesina. Boosting energy efficiency in the public sector

FEDERESCO, the Italian Association of Energy Saving Companies, designed a plan in 2016 for the implementation of several energy efficiency measures at the Palazzo della Farnesina in Rome, the historical building where the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs resides.

Fact sheet

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
  • Rome, Italy


  • 1,166 tCO2 emission reduction per year
  • Energy savings of 270 toe/year

One of Italy’s biggest public complexes

The Palazzo della Farnesina, designed in 1935, is located in the Italic Forum, between Monte Mario and the Tiber river, and is the current headquarters of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

With more than 1,300 rooms and nine floors, and a façade 169 meters long and 51 meters high, the Palace covers an area of 120,000 m² and has a built volume of 720,000 m3. La Farnesina is, together with the Royal Palace of Caserta, one of Italy’s biggest public complexes.

Solar-bioenergy villages in Germany prove successful

Several bioenergy villages with combined biomass and solar heat supply are being realized in Germany. We look at one of them in detail: Hallerndorf in Bavaria.

Since the end of 2016, close cooperation between the village of Hallerndorf in Bavaria and their energy supplier NATURSTROM AG has resulted in 100% renewable heat.

The required heat quantity of 3 million kWh per year is generated by an innovative combination of biomass and solar energy. This ensures efficient capacity utilisation and a reliable supply to the connected households. It also saves nearly a quarter of a million litres of heating oil per year.