Ruggedised: working on smart grid for thermal energy

With the European Project RUGGEDISED, the City of Rotterdam is working to produce a neighbourhood where the thermal energy needed is produced, shared and used locally through a smart grid.

Energy production comes in many forms and sizes, but in the Hart van Zuid (Heart of South) district in Rotterdam, perhaps more so than elsewhere. As the lead partner – a so-called Lighthouse City – in a smart cities project funded by the European Union, the city works to extract thermal energy from wastewater, pavements, ponds and streams in the surrounding area, and even from dancing people!

Grand scale

On their own, none of the technical solutions are new. The grand scale of the implementation though, how the city combines it with other ambitions for the neighborhood, and the many different sources feeding into the same grid, is a first of its kind, explains Katelien van den Berge, Project Manager for RUGGEDISED in Rotterdam. ‘The municipality is working closely with private partners and research institutions to make sure Hart van Zuid becomes one of the most sustainable parts of Rotterdam.’

Using thermal energy

Residents and businesses in the area will also be able to use thermal energy collected from the streets they are walking on. Tubes will be integrated in the asphalt layer of the pavement with cold water pumped through to capture heat energy from the pavement which can itself reach up to 65°C on a summer day. ‘The tubes deployed beneath the asphalt are not just useful in summer but give us the added benefit of being able to heat up the asphalt a few degrees during winter by pumping warmer water through them. By using the heat created elsewhere in the system we will have enough energy to keep the pavement ice-free on otherwise cold days’, explains van den Berge.