In January 2021, the municipality of Varces (8,300 inhabitants), in Isère, commissioned its wood heating network intended to supply its public buildings. This device prevents the release of 295 tonnes of CO² per year (the equivalent of 1.5 million km traveled by car). The project is led by the municipality in conjunction with Energ’Y Citoyennes and ForestEner, with the support of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, ADEME and Grenoble-Alpes Métropole.
The new boiler room, built in 2020, houses two 250 kW wood-fired boilers which supply eight municipal buildings in the town center: primary and nursery schools, the post office, the leisure center, the cultural center, the performance hall, the gymnasium and the changing rooms of the football stadium. This equipment represents more than one hectare of surface to be heated .
During the first five months, the two wood-fired boilers provided 97% of the heating and hot water needs of the eight buildings… Before commissioning, the municipality planned to cover at least 90% of the needs.Thierry Lora Ronco, Deputy Mayor of Varces
Previously, these buildings were mainly powered by fossil fuel devices. The annual consumption of the network is 1.1 GWh (gigawatt hour). “During the first five months, the two wood-fired boilers provided 97% of the heating and hot water needs of the eight buildings. It’s much more than expected, ”says Thierry Lora Ronco, deputy mayor of Varces, in charge of ecological transition. Before commissioning, the municipality planned to cover at least 90% of needs.
In 2019, accompanied by the Local Energy and Climate Agency of Grenoble, the town hall of Varces is launching a consultation for the design of its wood-energy heating network . It also provides for the installation of a hydraulic distribution within the gymnasium and the cultural center, then heated by electricity. The consultation includes criteria for citizen funding and governance, energy and environmental performance.
The Forestener company wins the tender and signs a 20-year heat supply contract. This specialist in the design of wood boilers has the particularity of involving citizens in the investment and governance of the projects she leads. To ensure this participatory dimension in Varces, Forestener works in partnership with Energ’y Citoyennes, a company created by residents of the Grenoble metropolitan area with the aim of producing energy from renewable sources.
“We have built a communication plan to interest citizens and organized events to mobilize savings throughout the project,” explains Fabienne Mahrez, vice-president of Energ’y Citoyennes. This civic approach has received the “Shared Energy” label, which guarantees its quality. Energ’y Citoyennes is carrying out two other renewable energy projects with the municipality of Varces: a photovoltaic school roof and shade house.
The two boilers consume approximately 300 tonnes of woodchips per year . These wood chips are supplied by ABSRA SAS, whose platform is located 40 km from Varces. In winter, 35 m3 of wood are delivered twice a week .