Director Evgeny Hatchaturov at Tieploseti St Peterburga. Photo: Patrik Rastenberger

It is hard to describe today’s district heating production in St. Petersburg without feeling the wing-beats of history. The world’s first district heating pipeline was laid to the address Fontanka 96 in St. Petersburg in 1924.

The pilot project was launched because the local engineers wanted to experiment with ways of reducing smoke and particle emissions in the city at a time when most homes were provided with woodfired stoves.

Fontanka is a seven-kilometre long river that flows past the historical quarter. In the 19th century, the fountains in the summer garden of the imperial family were fed with water drawn from the River Fontanka. In the 1920s, the building to which the world’s first district heating pipeline was laid, used to house a print shop that put out Bolshevik publications such as the newspaper Volga.

The local company TGK-1 is currently planning to install a new transfer pumping station fitted with frequency converters in order to improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel consumption in St. Petersburg. The new transfer pumping station to be built on the company’s inner courtyard will replace the existing electricity works dating back to 1898. NEFCO is co-funding the project by extending a loan of EUR three million.

“The investment is assumed to reduce the annual consumption of natural gas by close to 13.5 million cubic metres, which will decrease carbon dioxide emissions by about 25,000 tonnes per year,” says Senior Investment Manager Ulf Bojö of NEFCO.

Additionally, the project foresees the installation of new thermally insulated pipelines to address the problems with heat losses. As a result of these measures and the construction of the new transfer pumping station, the project will allow the closure of around 55 outdated heating plants in St. Petersburg.

At the time of our visit to St Petersburg the district heating market in St Petersburg had just undergone a major reorganisation. The City Administration and TGK-1 decided to establish a purpose-oriented company Tieploseti St Peterburga by merging assets of the City-owned Guptek and TGK-1 owned District Heating Network. Lately these two companies shared market of the city in 50 / 50 proportion. We met the newly appointed Director of Tieploseti Evgeny Hatchaturov, who now bears the overall responsibility of the project.

“We carried out the reorganisation to improve customer service and develop the existing district heating network. As we are now also responsible for the branch lines to the flats, it’s easier to make further investments and upgrade the technology as we can now see the big picture,” says Hatchaturov.

Teploseti Peterburga is planning to buy some of the equipment required for the new investments from Germany, which will also guarantee financing from German banks. While a more extensive district heat network will mean more customers and greater financial return, it will also mean major environmental benefits. According to the local regulations, each new flat connected to the district heat network will be supplied by heating plants that
co-generate electricity and heating, which will automatically improve energy efficiency.

But the new investments will also ensure the preservation of the historic quarter targeted for the project.

“We hope to be able to convert the old electricity works into a museum or an administrative office building for use by Tieploseti Peterburga once the project is completed,” says Sergey Kotov who heads the 112-year-old plant.