Increased energy efficiency at Pescara’s Alessandro Volta swimming pool

An EU-funded project has improved the energy efficiency of the heating system at the Alessandro Volta secondary school swimming pool in Pescara, in Italy’s Abruzzo region. Available to students during school hours, the pool is also an important facility for the local community. It is open to the public during the rest of the day and is used by associations for people with disabilities.

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Heating system pipes at Pescara provincial swimming pool © Abruzzo Region Heating system pipes at Pescara provincial swimming pool © Abruzzo Region

" The main challenge was to optimise energy consumption for the production of warm water for the showers and heat for the swimming pool and the school, which were supplied by a traditional methane gas heating system. The expected results are energy savings and lower CO2 emissions. "

Dario Ciamponi, Abruzzo Region

The Pescara provincial authorities launched the project within the framework of the EU’s Covenant of Mayors, under which local governments commit to reaching EU climate and energy objectives. Energy efficiency measures included the construction of a solar thermal system to generate heat from renewable sources.

Existing heat generators were replaced with five high-efficiency condensing generators serving five boilers. All users were connected to the new system and a single electronic monitoring mechanism was installed to control all of the different components.

Optimising energy consumption

Heating for the pool and school was previously supplied through a traditional system using methane gas and the main challenge was to optimise the amount of energy consumed in heating the buildings and supplying hot water for the showers. Total annual energy needs were estimated at 372 471 kilowatt-hours (kWh), of which 26 738 kWh was for hot water, 69 900 kWh for heating the buildings and 275 833 kWh for the pool.

Market research was carried out in order to analyse possible design solutions, taking account of the different aspects of production and consumption of solar thermal energy and the needs of the buildings. It was found that optimal use of solar panels is achieved in places where significant quantities of hot water are consumed, such as hotels, guest houses, campsites, bathing establishments and sports facilities.

Choosing the right location

The choice of the building on which to place the solar energy system was made based on the availability of sufficient space with the right amount of exposure to sunlight, the level of demand for energy throughout the year and the possibility for use of low and medium temperature thermal energy. It was decided to install panels of a total area of 150 m² above the swimming pool entrance and changing rooms. This also entailed replacement of the waterproofing sheathing on the roof.

Three accumulator tanks with a capacity of 2 000 litres each to store the energy form another element of the system. Their size was determined based on the amount of heat the solar panels can generate. The storage capacity of the hot water tank was increased from 800 to 1 000 litres and two new boilers were installed to meet the energy needs of the changing rooms.

Annually, the solar collectors are expected to generate 143 627 kWh of energy, 38 % of the needs of the pool and school, and reduce CO2 emissions by 48 346 kg and overall energy consumption by 30-40 %. They should also cut maintenance costs, thereby helping to ensure the financial viability of the facility.

Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the project “Interventions to promote energy efficiency of the swimming pool heating system – ‘A. Volta’ secondary school in Pescara” is EUR 350 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 141 000 through the “Abruzzo” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.


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