There is a small municipality, consisting of 1,200 inhabitants, in the future of Europe’s renewable energies. Montieri, a town in the province of Grosseto, is one of three pilot sites, along with Morahalom in Hungary and Galanta in Slovakia, where the European Geothermal Communities experimentation is being carried out, to study the application of geothermal energy technologies, as well as other renewable resources. There are three projects that pertain to the medieval town situated in the heart of the Lardello geothermal area.
For some years, they are initially creating an innovative geothermal tele-heating [district heating] system, using a high enthalpy fluid, dedicated exclusively to the historic center, and specifically in service of the 425 residences. Why Montieri? The choice is due to the geothermal similarities between the township and those of various areas of Central and Eastern Europe, consisting of high availability of underground energy at high temperatures, which however require substantial investments for exploitation. The goal is to study feasible methods of using these resources that will benefit both those countries as well as Europe as a whole. The project for the Montieri historic center forecasts the heating of a total 110 thousand cubic meters, with an expected value demand and production estimated at 5500 kW.
The second test consists of combining tele-heating [district heating] with retrofitting measures to improve houses’ energy efficiency. Because Montieri’s architectural heritage is considered of historic and cultural value, the room for these interventions is rather limited, and will therefore require the use of exclusively natural materials and of sustainable techniques. In this respect, the program expects to apply these measures to 20% of the residences serviced by the tele-heating system, with the goal of making these buildings completely independent of fossil fuels.
The third element of the EU project is the integration with photovoltaic power: Montieri’s urban center’s illumination will be substituted with an LED system powered by the solar power. In addition, those residences that will not be serviced by geothermal energy will have at their disposition solar thermal collectors for heating and hot water.
The application of the Geothermal Communities project in Morahalom, Hungary and Galanta, Slovakia, is due to the decision to test the potential of underground energy in three towns with very diverse characteristics in terms of climatic conditions, populations, utilized technologies, and geothermal availability, so as to evaluate all possible applications of the adopted solutions.