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SPECTRUM Water heat pump in a complex near Bordeaux

05 August 2022

Heat pumps instead of gas! At a state-of-the-art real-estate complex near the French metropolitan region of Bordeaux, a climate-neutral future is in the air, assisted by a new SPECTRUM Water from ENGIE Refrigeration. In our interview with Marcel Kulk, the product manager explains why our heat pump is exactly the right choice for this project.

The ENGIE Refrigeration team is currently implementing a project in a new real-estate complex near Bordeaux. What should our readers know about this project?

Bordeaux is an attractive city that is becoming increasingly popular. The neighbouring Métropolitain Bordeaux-Aéroparc region and the nearby economic centre of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region are set for growth. More and more companies and people are settling there, and the number of visiting tourists is steadily increasing. A new business park is currently under construction to meet this expansion. It comprises a 40,000-square-metre building complex that includes hotels and services, all embedded in seven hectares of landscaped greenery. This innovative real-estate complex is just a few steps from Bordeaux airport, and is part of the airport company’s strategy. Local conditions are therefore perfect for business tourism and for establishing companies with domestic and foreign investors.

What are the biggest challenges when providing heat to districts?

Ideally, the heating supply for districts and towns should above all be eco-friendly, future-proof and as resource-conserving as possible. Heat suppliers have to cover a large performance and temperature range, because refrigeration and heating networks mostly supply multiple building complexes and extensive built-up areas via a central system and a widely branching line network. In addition, the building technology systems must be absolutely reliable; they also have to have low running costs, which are achieved by the best possible efficiency values. Especially in times of fast-rising energy prices and resource shortages, this is a key aspect in making a heating supply economical and affordable.

What role does an efficient heating supply for districts play in the energy and heating transition?

I believe that a district heating supply should follow the ‘efficiency first’ principle, and that the most efficient systems engineering should be deployed. After all, logically speaking, the cleanest and cheapest kilowatt-hour is the one that is never even generated. Overall, as I mentioned before, we face a whole range of requirements for the project in Bordeaux, but they are unavoidable if the energy and heating transition is to work. Large heat pumps like our SPECTRUM Water combine all these requirements in a single machine and make it possible to integrate renewable heat sources and power generation technologies – think sector coupling – for a fully regenerative and carbon-neutral heat production.

SPECTRUM Water Wärmepumpe

How is this project different from other districts?

The new Bordeaux complex is green through and through – from the very beginning. Both the entire building complex and the individual buildings themselves will be certified according to the standard for high environmental quality as per BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method). This is reflected in the landscaping, for example, which will include plenty of trees, ponds and planted paths. A restaurant and a multi-storey car park are located in a building planted with greenery. The energy efficiency of the buildings and building technology systems also plays a key role in the ‘green building’ concept. And that’s where we at ENGIE Refrigeration come in with our chillers and heat pumps.

Has ENGIE Refrigeration worked for Bordeaux airport before?

Though we have implemented plenty of projects for airports, the Bordeaux airport company is a new customer for ENGIE Refrigeration. We are implementing the project with a French partner, with whom we have collaborated on various commissions for many years. Our partner, a systems engineering business, was asked by the real-estate company operating the complex, to handle the heating and refrigeration technology systems for the complex – from planning and installation to commissioning, maintenance and energy monitoring of all systems. And of course we are delighted that our products are involved in this project!

Which machines will be deployed in this real-estate complex?

We are supplying a SPECTRUM Water water/water heat pump with a total capacity of around one megawatt of heat and 740 kilowatts of refrigeration. In fact, this will be the first time our new SPECTRUM Water heat pump is deployed on site. It will feed into a heat and refrigeration network that will supply the complex in winter with warm water (55 degrees Celsius) for room heating and cold water (7 degrees Celsius) for room cooling. In addition, two air-cooled QUANTUM Air chillers with a refrigeration capacity of 1.6 megawatts will cover the cooling requirements of the business park in the summer. So users can rely on pleasant room temperatures in every season.

What makes the SPECTRUM Water heat pump perfect for the complex?

For our customers, it was essential that the refrigeration and heating systems fit into the sustainability concept of the complex. They must also contribute towards the BREEAM sustainability certification. Our SPECTRUM Water heat pump does this, with its high seasonal efficiency with SCOP values of 6.11; these values are achieved through our innovative system concept with turbo compressors with magnetic bearings, and through the use of the low-GWP refrigerant R-1234ze, which also gains bonus points for the BREEAM certification. The combination of maximum seasonal system efficiency and refrigerants with a low global warming potential reduces both the direct and the indirect emissions of the system and leads to an unbeatably low carbon balance.

‘The SPECTRUM Water heat pump is a fully regenerative and eco-friendly heat generator.’

From your perspective, what makes the SPECTRUM Water heat pump and the chosen system concept stand out?

One key aspect, which is unique in the market for large heat pumps, is that the system is oil-free. Without a need for machine oils that are hazardous to groundwater, and without fault-prone components for oil management, the system is extremely low maintenance and reliable to operate. It remains stable throughout its service life in terms of performance and efficiency, as oil deposits on the heat exchangers – referred to as oil fouling – can simply not develop. The SPECTRUM is also compact and very quiet, so it can be integrated unobtrusively in the green environment, and its cooling medium temperatures of up to 65 degrees Celsius allow monovalent integration into the heating concept of the complex. The heat source is geothermal. As I mentioned earlier, the SPECTRUM is used in the project not just for heating, but also, thanks to hydraulic switching, as a chiller for the comfort climate control of the buildings. Some of the waste heat generated by the refrigeration process is used in the summer to regenerate the geothermal probe field, which means the ground is used as a natural form of heat storage. A sustainable system concept that makes the best possible use of the deployed primary energy and meets all the requirements for a future-proof and innovative heat and refrigeration supply.

Were there other key reasons why ENGIE Refrigeration received the order for the Bordeaux real-estate complex?

As I mentioned earlier, we have been cooperating successfully with our partner in France for many years. So far, we have mainly collaborated on oil-free QUANTUM chillers. So the team knows that our models stand for top efficiency and power, and that their performance is reliable. The SPECTRUM Water proved this beyond a doubt on our in-house test bed when we conducted the test run with our customer – and it achieved all the required power and efficiency values with ease.

What other similar applications is the SPECTRUM Water heat pump suitable for?

In short: the SPECTRUM Water is the perfect solution for all those who are going climate-neutral for the future and want to accelerate their exit from the world of fossil fuels into a carbon-neutral future – be they companies, municipalities or cities. Heating networks for supplying heat to residential areas and complexes play a strategic role in the heating transition. They are scheduled to be successively extended and decarbonised at the national level in the coming years in order to make buildings climate-neutral by 2045. The SPECTRUM Water heat pump – ideally operated with greenhouse-gas-free electricity – can play a key role here in future. Whether integrated in monovalent fashion in smaller, newly built district networks or in an energy mix with other eco-friendly heat generators in existing urban heating networks – our heat pumps are always the ecologically sustainable alternative to boilers powered by fossil fuels, and they combine all the aspects that are essential for a heat generator of the future.

Mr Kulk, thank you for talking to us.

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