As part of its strategy, Fortum offers sustainable solutions for growing cities. In May 2016 Fortum opened the first district cooling plant and network in Tartu, Estonia. At the moment Tartu district cooling network is 1.6 kilometres long. It increases the offering for customers in Tartu in addition to heat and electricity, which is produced by Fortum’s local combined heat and power (CHP) plant.
The total cost of the investment is EUR 5.7 million including a new cooling plant with the capacity of 13 MW. The plant is located next to the Emajõgi river, which allows the use of river-cooled chillers, which are part of a high performance production solution.
District cooling in Tartu downtown is produced in the most efficient and natural way. Water of the river Emajõgi is used for free cooling from October to April. In co-operation with SmartEnCity project solar panels were installed to produce electricity for the plant’s own energy needs. Inside the plant there is a heat pump which helps to transform water’s excess heat coming from district cooling customers to heat up water for district heating customers.
The district cooling project will decrease the need of electricity yearly by 70% compared to local cooling solutions. Electricity production in Estonia is mostly based on oil shale (80% in 2015). Decrease of electricity need will benefit the environment by reducing CO2 emissions by 70% (6,000 ton/year). Local cooling solutions need yearly 24 GWh primary energy. District cooling plant reduces the use of primary energy by more than three times.
Benefits for customers
District cooling has several advantages compared to other alternatives available on the market. Connecting a property to the district cooling network removes the need for refrigeration equipment and additional cooling units on roof tops. This frees up large amounts of space and brings significant savings for the property owners. In addition to this, customers get added value to business reputation when using very environmental-friendly and sustainable cooling solution.
Fortum and district cooling
Fortum has long experience in the field of district cooling both in Sweden and Finland. Advanced district cooling is ideal for densely built urban areas where district cooling and heating networks serve a large number of users. District cooling can be described as transferring thermal energy that is in the wrong place to the place where it is needed. The water in a district cooling network warms up and its energy reclaimed to bring heat to buildings and tap water.