Ireland establishes first direct heating scheme

Tallaght in Dublin is set to become the site of Ireland’s first large-scale district heating scheme.

Common in many large European cities, district heating is a system for redistributing waste heat from local industry, power stations or incinerators to meet heating requirements for other premises.

In this instance, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has designed a data centre in the Irish district with renewable energy in mind. The scheme will see excess heat generated by servers farmed and redistributed to provide low-cost hot water and heating to buildings throughout Tallaght. Under its broader sustainability commitments, AWS is providing the recycled heat free of charge.

The South Dublin County Council (SDCC) has established Ireland’s first publicly owned not-for-profit energy company, Heatworks, with the support of AWS and the Finnish-owned energy supply company Fortum eNext to provide low-carbon heat to local buildings. Fortum was contracted to carry out the design, installation and operation of the network.

“The Tallaght District Heating Network shows how public-private collaboration using well-established district-heating technology can construct a system to recycle heat from an Amazon Web Services data centre to meaningfully contribute to helping Ireland achieve its 2030 sustainability targets,” says the SDCC chief executive Daniel McLoughlin.

“We look forward to future collaborations as south Dublin county moves towards a low-carbon future.”

According to Heatworks, the network’s supply of low-cost, low-carbon heat is expected to attract more innovative businesses and development to Tallaght town centre.

The district heating scheme could pave the way for educational programmes and start-up opportunities in renewable energy solutions, says the energy firm.

Operations are expected to commence before the end of 2021, with initial customers being the SDCC and the Tallaght campus of the Technological University Dublin. The project will supply heat to council buildings , including SDCC’s County Hall and County Library, followed by the Rua Red arts hub and the Civic Theatre.

When completed, the Tallaght District Heating Network is estimated to reduce carbon emissions in the local authority’s area by nearly 1,500 tonnes per year.

By 2024, the scheme aims to supply heat to 47,000 sqm of public-sector buildings, 3,000 sqm of commercial office space, and 135 ‘affordable’ apartments. In the medium term, the SDCC has confirmed plans to provide the heat source to 3,000 to 5,000 residential units.

The project is partly funded by the EU’s Heatnet programme which promotes carbon reduction through district-heating in Europe’s northwest. It is also receiving €4.5m ($7.27m) from the Government’s climate action fund and direct funding from SDCC.

Pictured: The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Dublin data centre will be providing low-cost hot water and heating to buildings throughout Tallaght.

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