Breaking new ground to harness water for heat
In an ingenious solution that is the first of its kind in the world, Prague’s V-Tower, a 30-storey building with 131 luxury flats, has been equipped with a unique Veolia-designed heat management system that uses the fresh water and waste water systems as a renewable source of heat. Radek Pařízek (Chief of Department for Energy Services Development, Veolia Czech Republic) and Petra Orošová (Marketing Manager) discuss their involvement in this pioneering project.
What makes this project innovative?
We had to navigate uncharted territory to meet the customer’s high environmental aims. To do this, we teamed up with our water business line to find a way to use the water system to provide heat. The solution supplies 76% of the building’s heating needs, with heat that is 30% cheaper than that from gas-fired boilers.
This was the first project for us in which the water and energy business units submitted such an integrated offer to the customer. So not only was the solution an innovation that had not previously existed, but the level of collaboration was also unique.
What is your role in the project?
I met with the developer and then discussed options with our technical people. When our French colleagues on the water side showed us the potential of using heat from waste water, we thought: why not use normal water?
On the marketing side, I started working on the project when it was delivered in 2017. My role is to make it known both within Veolia so it can serve as an example for our colleagues abroad, and more widely so the public can see what we’re able to do. As the V-Tower was selected as one of the 8 best buildings in the world, it’s already getting attention.
What is it like working together?
Previously, the technical team had to do our own marketing, and that’s not our field of expertise. Petra’s ability to make the project understandable to others is very valuable.
Quite simply, I think without Radek the project wouldn’t have been possible. His experience and expertise meant that when he proposed this completely new solution, everyone took it seriously.
What has most motivated you?
We needed to work with other divisions to make the project happen. During discussions, I honestly expected that when I brought up the idea I would hear: ‘It’s not possible.’
But instead I kept getting, ‘Yes, it could work, let’s try it.’
Seeing what our teams are capable of.
They weren’t intimidated by taking on something new, but in fact were inspired by developing something that there was no model for.
What has the biggest challenge been?
The local authorities were initially concerned that the system would affect the quality of the drinking water. For all the safety guarantees we had to provide, you’d think we were building a small nuclear power plant!
As Radek said, the authorisation process really slowed down the whole process. We had to overcome resistance to doing something in a new way.
How do you see the future?
We’re working on a second, connected, project in the Main Point office building, next to the V-Tower. This will capture heat in a similar way, but from waste water. Petra and I are also working on other ideas that will help users reduce their energy consumption.
I hope this success will lead to other innovative projects like it. I see this as the future direction of Veolia: solutions that are smart, environmental, and based on synergies between our business lines.