How Hungary and Latvia are Handling A Critical Clean Energy Transition

Half of the EU’s energy use goes towards heating and cooling, and ¾ of that comes from fossil fuels. So it’s no surprise that a transition to clean energy for indoor climate control could result in a major reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) pollution.

Plus, the price of natural gas in many parts of the EU is quite volatile. Some have linked this to a need for self-reliance through locally sourced energy, rather than purchasing natural gas, which can become expensive.

How two cities are making it happen

A short documentary from Bankwatch (included below) covers two districts in the EU that are already making the switch to sustainable heating systems.

  • Szeged, Hungry. In 2013, the district began using geothermal energy for their heating system thanks to a group of university students who lobbied for the change. Szeged is the third largest city in Hungary, so the change was no small feat. Now, Szeged is home to “one of the largest geothermal retrofits of a district heating system in Europe.”
  • Salaspils, Latvia. This town, located Southeast of Latvia’s capital, diversified their 100% natural gas heating system to a combination of solar power, an accumulation tank, a wood chip boiler, and natural gas. The update allows them to draw on several sources before turning to natural gas.

Possible roadblocks

As with any major change, switching to renewable energy hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. Both districts have had to overcome major roadblocks to get where they are today:

  • Community acceptance. In both Salaspils and Szeged, the switch to clean energy wasn’t always embraced. Engagement, education, and ongoing communication with the community has been essential.
  • Cost. The upfront cost to switch to clean energy is very high. Fortunately, the EU will often provide funding for up to 50% of the total cost.
  • Logistics. New systems take up time and physical space – like drilling massive holes in the ground for geothermal energy or setting up fields of solar panels.

The future of clean energy for indoor climate control

Clean energy is no longer a pipe dream. It’s happening. And though there’s still a long way to go to totally eliminate fossil fuels, Bankwatch believes “it won’t be long before clean, efficient heating systems are the gold standard for municipalities throughout the EU.”

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