Gradska toplana, the district heating system operator in the Serbian city of Niš, wants to build a heat pump that would use water from the Nišava River for heating. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the management announced a series of projects for the replacement of local fossil fuel–fired boilers with cleaner solutions, installation of new facilities and the reconstruction of some units. Moreover, it also plans exploratory drilling for the introduction of geothermal heating.
Preparations are underway in Serbia’s third-largest city for constructing a high-capacity heat pump in Krivi Vir to utilize water from Nišava, local news website Južne vesti reported. Public district heating company Gradska toplana in Niš has signed a memorandum of understanding with Serbia’s Ministry of Mining and Energy and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The total project value amounts to EUR 13.3 to EUR 13.5 million. The Ministry of Mining and Energy has allocated EUR 8.2 million for the investment. One-fifth of the amount will be in the form of a grant from the EBRD. The financing arrangement between the City of Niš and the utility for the remaining amount, between EUR 5.1 and EUR 5.3 million, has yet to be finalized.
The heat pump will provide the base level of heating
The heat pump will provide thermal energy for base heating, former energy manager of the City of Niš Bojan Gajić told Balkan Green Energy News and added that other sources would be used as needed.
A similar project is being under preparation in Sarajevo, the capital city of neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the installation of large heat pumps is planned. The Government of Sarajevo Canton has adopted the capital project Sarajevo Toplane District Heating, valued at EUR 50 million.
Niš is shifting to natural gas for heating
“Gradska toplana is working intensively to convert boiler houses that run on fuel oil to natural gas and renewable energy sources. The company has already achieved good results. Two 10 MW oil-fired boiler houses have been converted to natural gas, contributing to improved air quality and reduced CO2 emissions,” Gajić stated.
The utility plans to build a gas-fired unit in Pantelej in the city’s north for all public institutions in the area and shut down two small ones. Another gas system is envisaged to cover the nearby student dormitory, municipal building, police station, and other structures.
New boiler houses are planned for the Pasi Poljana suburb in the Palilula municipality. This location is suitable for heating with waste wood, which the heating plant would collect in cooperation with public utility Mediana.
The district heating utility is developing a trigeneration project at the University Clinical Center.
At the beginning of 2021, the heating plant took over the University Clinical Center (UKC) heating boilers. It connected public facilities to its system, switching them from fuel oil and coal as primary heating sources to natural gas.
“In collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Gradska toplana is currently developing a trigeneration system within UKC. Trigeneration is the simultaneous production of thermal energy, cooling, and electricity,” Gajić explained.
One of the most important projects is a geothermal energy exploration
The heating plant operator plans to extract geothermal water for heating a new settlement in the northern part of the city’s urban area.
There is already one well in Niš, 300 meters deep. Geothermal energy is extracted to complement district heating. There are plans to dig a well at a depth of nearly 1,200 meters, Gajić said.
An underground hot lake under the city spans 65 square kilometres. The entire new housing project could be heated from the well, the utility claims.
“This project was presented at a conference in Chicago, garnering significant attention, so we expect great investor interest,” Gajić said.
Of note, recent exploration results have shown that geothermal sources in New Belgrade can satisfy a significant portion of the energy needs of the Palace of Serbia and SIV3, buildings that the Government of Serbia uses.