Serbia: USAID-funded project reduces thermal losses in district heating system of Čačak

Benefits

  • 33% reduction in natural gas consumption
  • Increase in energy efficiency by reducing heat losses
  • Increased reliability and availability of the system

Challenge

Čačak is located in the western part of central Serbia and has approx. 73,000 inhabitants. Twenty-one percent of the population relies on the municipal district heating network for warmth in the winter.

Over the past ten years, Čačak’s district heating company (DHC Čačak) experienced very high water and thermal losses, which negatively impacted network efficiency.

Summary

With the support of USAID, DHC Čačak has installed a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system in 25 of its most inefficient substations in order to reduce system thermal losses.

Prior to the installation of the SCADA systems, substations were controlled manually by local operators based on ambient temperatures and verbal instructions from the central dispatcher, which resulted in routine underheating or overheating in buildings.

The SCADA system enabled DHC Čačak to centrally automate an operations schedule and adjust the delivery of heat to consumers in real time based on consumers’ needs, the energy available in the system, and the outdoor temperature. For example, at the substation that serves a local school building, heat is reduced automatically during nights, weekends and holidays, and turned back on one hour before the school opens.

Results

During the 2019-2020 heating season, DHC ČAČAK reported a 33% reduction in natural gas consumption.

Finance

The installed cost per substation was approximately €5,200. The total investment was €130,000, with one heating season constituting the simple payback time.

The project was supported by the USAID Serbia Energy Efficiency Activity (SEEA). The SEEA is two-year project launched in May 2019. It intended to reduce gas fuel consumption and dependency on imported fuel through improved energy efficiency in the provision of heating at the local level. SEEA is implemented by Tetra Tech ES, Inc., in cooperation with E3 International.