Kistelek shows potential of geothermal power

A small town in the south of Hungary with a population of roughly 7 600 is leading the way in geothermal energy use. Through a project supported by the ERDF, Kistelek has drilled a well to thermal water 1 700 metres deep that is capable of supplying eight public institutions. The project is breaking new ground for the country and as such is being held up as an example to other local councils.

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Geothermal energy being harnessed in Hungary Geothermal energy being harnessed in Hungary

"The energy costs of the Multifunctional Sports and Programme Centre are significantly reduced by the geothermal district-heating system."
Nagy Netta, Director, Kárpátia Kincsesház Kft.

Hungary is well-known for its plentiful supply of geothermal energy, with temperatures double the average of the rest of Europe. Deep-water springs have long provided spa operators with a reliable source of income. Now this energy is also being harnessed to provide a cheaper, more environmentally friendly heating supply.

Naturally better

Using the €1.16 million from the Environment and Infrastructure Operational Programme, Kistelek drilled a well to extract heat from the thermal water lying in the underground strata. Pipelines stretching five kilometres were then built to carry the thermal water to eight public institutions whose heating systems were all upgraded with less expensive, more ecological technology.

The outdated systems which proved expensive gave way to a system needing next to no supervision which results in heating supply savings of roughly 10% for the institutions concerned and a reduction in the town pollution levels.

An underutilised resource

For much of the first half of the 20th Century, members of Hungary’s Parliament warmed their feet from thermal waters circulating beneath the floors of their chamber. Today, the heat is considered a valuable yet underutilised source of precious energy.

The Kistelek project sends a clear sign to other local councils that this new system, which draws on Hungary’s ample supply of thermal waters, works and is even cheaper than the traditional gas supply. As demand for electricity grows – for the past decade it has risen by 1 million megawatts per year – it is seen as only a matter of time before the potential of geothermal resources is realised.

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