Salaspils Siltums - and its path from fossil fuels to solar energy
The mantra at Salaspils Siltums Ltd. is that the best way to protect the future environment is by acting now. It is of utmost importance to actively do something about global climate changes every day at both national and company levels.
By Roberts Kaķis, Data analyst at Salaspils Siltums
T he primary purpose of “Salaspils Siltums” is to reduce the utility CO 2 footprint and become more independent of fossil fuels. Solar energy is clean – with no greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere. From 100% fossil to 90% renewable Till 2012, Salaspils Siltums was purchasing heat from the adja- cent cogeneration plant running on natural gas, while the rest of the energy was produced using natural gas. In this way, all the thermal energy transmitted to the heating network was made using only fossil fuels. In 2012, however, the company integrated its first plant, a 7MW wood chip boiler producing thermal energy using renewable energy sources. To increase energy efficiency and the system’s overall effectiveness, in 2015, we decided to supplement the woodchip boiler with a 1.68 MW flue gas condenser. At that moment, these significant changes which Salaspils Siltums made left a remarkable pos- itive impact on the environment- in 2016, total CO 2 emissions decreased by 80% compared to 2011, and thermal energy pro- duced from renewable energy resources was 55%. Salaspils Siltums changed the system to control and moni- tor all devices used in heat production processes along with these changes. They also changed all heat pipelines with a to- tal length of more than 20 km —all these changes allowed to decrease heat losses by more than 20% compared to 2011. But in 2019, Salaspils Siltums took the next step towards green energy setting up a solar collector park with a total area of 21’672 m 2 , installing 1’720 solar collectors. Simultaneously, we built an 8’000 m 3 storage tank for thermal energy and in- stalled another 3 MW woodchip boiler with a 0,5 MW flue gas condenser to replace gas-produced energy during the winter months. In 2020 up to 90% of the annual thermal energy pro- duction was from renewable energy sources, including 20% solar energy. But will we in Latvia, where there are not so many sunny days, be able to produce heat with the sun? The most striking example of solar energy use at the Europe- an and global level is Denmark, where they installed the first
solar collectors in 1988. The Danish model also inspired Salaspils Siltums, and evaluating the climatic conditions in Latvia, which are very similar to Denmark, we concluded that we could also set good results in the use of such technologies. But to be sure that it was, in 2017, Salaspils Siltums installed 87 solar panels on the top of the company’s building roof. That was a pilot project to examine how productive and efficient solar energy technologies would work in Latvia conditions. The results were excellent, and now, solar panels are producing 23,5 MWh of electricity every year, which fully safeguards the needs of the administration. This experience served as an undisputed argument why it is justified to integrate solar collectors into the company’s production system. Now the solar collector field has worked for two whole years, and each year the performance is improving, mainly because of the improvement of the man- agement of the collector field. One of the primary skills that have improved is determining weather conditions and charac- teristics and predicting how they will change. This skill allows managing the processes in the solar collector field to make it perform as well as possible for each scenario. Forward-looking construction with a view to the future One of the most significant bottlenecks that this project has highlighted is that since this is the first large-scale so- lar project in Latvia that includes installing a solar collec- tor field, the local experts haven’t experienced how to car- ry out such tasks. For that reason, one of the conditions for the project applicants was that it had to include two parties - one part experienced in working with multiple similar projects and another consisting of local experts. The main aim of such conditions was to raise the compe- tence of local experts. Here in Latvia, we would have the representation that would ensure in-service servicing for all the systems built within the framework of this project. Before the pandemic, we organized several tours for all types of leads – pupils, students, local entrepreneurs, experts from abroad, etc. We are doing our best to teach all our knowledge to others interested in doing similar projects or who want to
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