Two district heating projects in Kortrijk and Kuurne

Three times a year, the Agency of the Eurometropolis and its partners allow you discover good practices and innovative examples in the field of renewable energy. After the visit in March to the company Pocheco, which advocates ecolonomy, the tour continued on the Flemish side of the border, with a visit to the district heating projects of Kortrijk and Kuurne. 

The participants met at the site of Campus Kortrijk Weide, where they were welcomed by Koen Byttebier, president of the intermunicipal association Leiedal and town councillor of Kortrijk. Nothing at this building site seems to suggest that as from the spring of 2018, an immense living and working space will be offering multiple activities, mainly focusing on young people and co-creation. Sebastien Lefebvre of the city of Kortrijk explained to the participants that the intention is to create an “energy hub” based on 5 major principles:  collective instead of individual, sharing of water and energy, the use of residual heat, smart monitoring and maximum production of local energy. In addition to the adult education centre, which has already been constructed, the site will soon also feature a swimming pool, a party hall, an incubator for start-ups and an area dedicated to open-air events. 

Kortrijk: a pilot project of the 4th generation 

What makes this site so special is the presence of district heating systems of the 4th generation underneath the swimming pool and the party hall. Fourth generation means that multiple renewable sources of energy are used (geothermal energy, urban residual heat, solar energy…).  Thanks to this system, the residual heat from the swimming pool can be used to heat the party hall and the depot. That means more savings and less waste!

This initiative is part of the Interreg NEW "Heatnet” project, which is steered by Kortrijk in West Flanders, in cooperation with the intermunicipal association Leiedal and the university of Gent. Not only does the project have ambitious goals, it also meets the requirements of the Covenant of Mayors, the objective of which is a reduction of CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020.  But that’s not all! The city intends to extend the district heating project to other sites (the nearby Howest / UGent campus) as well. In the long run, the clustering of energy may even be implemented on a large scale along the river Lys, combined with an interconnection between the existing networks. 

Kuurne: a private / public partnership

In the neighbouring town of Kuurne, a similar district heating system has been developed, also with the purpose of meeting the requirements of the Covenant of Mayors. This is not a European project, but the result of a private / public partnership: the energy distributors Eandis and Infrax and the real estate developers Dumobil and Paul Huyzentruyt have joined forces with the local authorities to realise this project. This may sound surprising, but Francis Watteeuw, member of the municipal executive of Kuurne, states that the project benefits each of the parties concerned. The involvement of enterprises serves to reassure politicians, who have their doubts as to this relatively unknown technology, whereas the private stakeholders benefit from a positive image and also have a financial interest. It is the consumer, however, who will benefit the most. 

The system, which is installed along the river Lys, will be powered by the residual heat of the waste incineration plant IMOG. In due time, it will provide over 700 families with heating and hot water. This project revolves entirely around renewable energy, but the intention is to take it even further! The idea is to exchange heat between enterprises and to extend the system to new residential areas or new buildings in the future.  The town's architectural heritage may also be connected and, who knows, perhaps even the entire town of Kuurne. The sustainable city of the future is being built today. 

In the autumn, a new energy visit will be organised. More information will be available at in September. 

Are you interested or do you want to be kept informed? Let us know via info(at)eurometropolis(dot)eu.