Ireland Climate action and sustainable development, Technology

South Dublin County Council’s award-winning Tallaght District Heating Scheme

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South Dublin County Council

This article from South Dublin County Council showcases their award-winning Tallaght District Heating Scheme, which is harnessing wasted heat energy from a nearby Amazon data centre and supplying heat to institutions and homes in Tallaght town centre.

At the 2023 Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards, South Dublin County Council (SDCC), collected the Climate Change Award for the Tallaght District Heating Scheme.

This award follows previous awards won by the Tallaght District Heating Scheme (TDHS), including the ‘Emerging District Energy Market’ award at the Global District – Energy Climate Awards in Brussels in November 2023.

South Dublin District Heating Company Limited by Guarantee (t/a Heatworks) was set up in 2020 as Ireland’s first not-for-profit energy utility. It is fully owned and operated by SDCC. The heart of the innovation lies in the fact that waste heat generated by the nearby Amazon data centre is harnessed to supply heat to the Tallaght District Heating Scheme for distribution through a district-heating system to public and private institutions and homes in Tallaght town centre.

The collaborative effort between SDCC, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Fortum (the Finnish energy-supply company) has resulted in a low-carbon solution, leveraging recyclable heat through bespoke innovative heat-pump technology. The partnership between SDCC and Codema (City of Dublin Energy Management Agency) has been instrumental in the development of this innovative, low-carbon initiative.

The environmental impact is substantial, with the Tallaght District Heating Scheme set to save almost 1,500 tonnes of CO2 annually. This achievement not only establishes Tallaght as a leader in climate change innovation but also contributes to the county’s carbon reduction goals. By showcasing the environmental value and potential of district heating in Tallaght, the project aims to inspire similar initiatives across Ireland.

Funded with the support of the European Union’s Interreg NWE programme (HeatNet), the Project Ireland 2040 Climate Action Fund, SEAI, and with direct funding from SDCC, the Tallaght District Heating Scheme aligns with the ambitious targets set in the Government’s Climate Action Plan. The plan envisions Ireland reaching up to 0.8 TWh of district heating capacity by 2025 and up to 2.7 TWh by 2030, emphasising the commitment to sustainable energy solutions. District-heating offers a technology-neutral platform which can combine waste-heat, renewable energy sources and co-generation with smart, flexible energysystems into a low carbon solution for urban neighbourhoods.

SDCC negotiated the supply of 10 MWs of waste-recyclable heat from the data centre developed by Amazon Data Services Ireland Ltd in Tallaght town centre (the heat is provided at no cost by Amazon as part of their zero-carbon commitment). The District Heating scheme required the formation of a publicly owned heat-utility company, a customer base, sufficient developmental grant aid, procurement of an experienced energy-supply company, and a suite of innovative contracts not available hitherto in Ireland. Fortum was contracted to design, build, operate and maintain the district-heating system.

Construction of the energy centre and pipe network was completed in 2023, and the system is now fully operational. Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Eamon Ryan TD and the Mayor of South Dublin County Council, Councillor Emma Murphy, officially opened the Tallaght District Heating Network and Energy Centre on 6th April 2023.

SDCC - Heatworks Official Opening 06042023 South Dublin County Council
South Dublin County Council

South Dublin County Council is committed to creating a low-carbon economy in Tallaght. With space heating accounting for over 38% of carbon generated annually in Ireland, this is a sector which requires addressing. District heating, linking renewable energy sources to a flexible smart energy system, is a proven method of reducing dependence on fossil fuels while bringing a wide range of social and environmental benefits.

Waste heat from the Amazon datacentre is recycled and increased in temperature using air-to-water heat pumps to 80 degrees C, efficient for distribution and powering of the heat network. The system is fully electric and operates at over 300% efficiency. This is the first time in Ireland that heat-pump technology will be linked to recycled-heat from a datacentre to produce ongoing low-carbon heat distributed through a publicly owned heat-network.

In Phase 1 of the Tallaght District Heating project, 47,000 sq. metres of public buildings (SDCC and Technological University of Dublin) as well as 3,000 sq. metres of commercial space are currently being heated by the Tallaght District Scheme and the connection of 133 Affordable-rental apartments will follow in 2025. The scale of carbon reduction from the district heating will be a significant contribution towards both institutions meeting their 2030 CO2 targets.

Large-scale apartment-based residential developments are set to commence construction in the Cookstown Regeneration area, and it is envisaged that Heatworks could provide these new developments with low-carbon, good-value heat and hot water.

The overall benefits of the Tallaght District Heating scheme can be summarised as follows-

  • Low development costs
  • Low carbon throughout
  • Low ongoing maintenance and capital replacement cost
  • Increased technical capacity and employment opportunities
  • Increased educational opportunities
  • Hot water on demand.


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