Morahalom is a small town (pop. 5800) situated in the south of Hungary on the border with Serbia. It used to be listed among the 50 most disadvantaged communities of Hungary, but the investments of the past decade - upon some the current project also builds on - launched it into the top 10 most dynamically developing settlements. The installation of the geothermal district heating system can be considered the most influential and of highest impact of them all, which also presented a solid foundation to the local GEOCOM components. It is worth noting that there are two separate geothermal heating systems in place in the town. One of them was developed solely for balneological use at the local spa, the already mentioned district heating system has a much wider impact on the community. Some key specifications of this latter have to be highlighted.
The doublet configuration of one abstraction well (B-45) and one injection well (B-46) (1270m and 900 m respectively) allows the sustainable resource management of the 63°C thermal water produced on site from the Upper Pannonian sandstone reservoir with flow rates in the range of 25-30m3/hour in summer and 60m3/hour in winter. The annual thermal water production on this system is around 190.000m3. The full loop runs a total of 3,054 kms between the two wells serving with heat and domestic hot water (DHW) a total number of 12 municipal-owned public buildings mainly in the downtown area. By having the geothermal cascade system in place the proportion of renewable energy within the energy mix of public institutions has grown from 0% up to more than 80% - offsetting the use of 542.029 m3 natural gas annually, while providing 18.700GJ of heat per year. As a direct result annual heating-related emissions have also been reduced significantly (by 1590t of CO2, 585kg of NxOx and 1113kg of CO). The GEOCOM project aimed to improve the cascade system with a set of new elements to ensure total utilisation of geothermal energy and to demonstrate cutting edge energy efficiency/retrofitting measures that are currently lacking from geothermal projects in Eastern-Central Europe.
In order to be able to adequately assess the results brought by the project activities a baseline had to be set up which reflects the pre-GEOCOM conditions and which can be used as a base of comparison for each of the demonstration components. As the project started in 2010 the year of 2009 was chosen for this purpose, as the very last one without any measures in place to improve the energy balance in Morahalom. The methodology of acquiring the data was the tedious processing of all the utility bills on a monthly basis issued by the service provider based on the natural gas consumption of all three target buildings (cultural center-elementary school complex; gymnasium; nursery school). This detailed dataset is shown in Table 1 below also including the amount of offset natural gas and annual CO2 emission values for each year compared to the base line values of 2009. Read more
Detailed analysis of natural gas consumption of the Morahalom demo-buildings over the course of GEOCOM
Having a second and closer look on the data it becomes evident that the achieved savings become more and more significant year-by-year as the project progressed and the finished individual investment components started to work together, complementing each other towards a highly efficient end result. For example the three buildings were connected to the geothermal cascade system during 2010, which immediately resulted some decrease of natural gas use projected for the whole year, but the major breakthrough came in 2011, when the total amount of natural gas used for heating purposes at the three locations dropped almost by 90%. Additional savings were realised by retrofitting the subject buildings. By improving the thermal qualities of the building envelope the amount of gas needed has decreased even further reaching only 1,1% of the initial value from only 5 years earlier.
The amount of gas required for domestic hot water purposes also decreased as the project went on. On one hand more efficient units were installed to replace the out-dated wasteful equipments while on the other hand the solar thermal panels were deployed on the rooftops at each estate taking advantage of the solar features of the region. As a combination of these actions we managed to cut the amount of natural gas needed for DHW production by 77% compared to 2009 and before. Today it is safe to say that the GEOCOM-actions not only helped the municipality to spare 92% of the gas it spent earlier on these three buildings, thus generating major savings, but they contributed to reduce local CO2 emissions down to 7% of the same value back in 2009, cutting such emissions by approx. 300tonnes annually.
The two CHP engines are also making up for all the preliminary expectations regarding their performance and reliability. The one at Hunyadi-liget, mounted on the B-45 well has been generating an average of 25.000 kWh power per month with an average output of 47kW since its installation in October 2012 of which between 4000-11000 kWh (7900kWh average) is fed to the national grid while the remaining is used onsite. It is used over 96% of the time during the heating season while in the summer this value is down to 30%, making an average of 72% usage. The power produced by the other unit at the spa (avg. 19000kWh/month) is fully consumed on the spot, with no feed to the grid at a lower average monthly output (28,5kW) but with higher utilization rate of 91%.
Evolution of the natural gas-use at Morahalom