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How a small village became a reference point for energy transition

By Claudio Rosmino
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How a small village became a reference point for energy transition
Copyright  euronews
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Venizy is a small community of less than a thousand inhabitants, located in the French region of Bourgogne.

Since it lies at the heart of the region’s main wooded areas, the mayor has chosen to switch the heating system for public buildings from oil to chipped wood.

It's an old-world that’s been modernized. Before, we used to heat with wood. Today we heat with wood, but using very advanced technology.
Sylvain Quoirin
Mayor of Venizy

The change has brought financial savings and a lower environmental impact. The new boiler room cuts heating costs by more than half and enables a saving of 63 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

"It's an old-world that’s been modernized. Before, we used to heat with wood,” says Sylvain Quoirin, the mayor of Venizy. “Today we heat with wood, but using very advanced technology. It’s a different type of energy, another type of heating that is grafted onto an existing installation. Transferring energy from fuel oil to wood creates a real saving on operating costs, even taking into account investment costs. "

The technological transition towards a cleaner and renewable source of energy cost around €277000, partially funded by the European Union's cohesion policy.

Chipped wood to feed the boiler system comes from the 800 hectares of communal forest that are under the control of environmental authorities. It comes mainly from coppice waste, dead trees or trees that have been felled for safety reasons, for example near roadsides.

"The annual need of the municipality in chipped wood is 80 tons,” says Thierry Bruggeman, forest manager for the municipality of Venizy.

“Generally the wood is cut in winter, and in May-June this wood is crushed and stored in a shed so that it can dry out. So, we leave it to dry for about three or four months, and then we can use it directly for the communal boiler room."

To guarantee the best energy performance, this natural fuel is shaped in the form of small, homogeneous pieces of dry wood.

Employment for local contractors

The community of Venizy is also getting direct advantages from this activity, as the wood is processed by local contractors. At the end of the day, the energy transition has promoted a full circle in terms of business, and the environment is part of this virtuous cycle.

"The waste that the boilers produce, I mean the ash, will be incorporated into compost,” says Jean-Pierre Gallois, public works manager for the municipality. “What is taken from nature goes back to nature at the end of the day."

The main network delivers heat to the City Hall, nearby public housing and two schools. Another facility serves a cultural centre on the outskirts of the village.