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Why is Hungary switching from gas to geothermal energy?

In partnership with The European Commission
Why is Hungary switching from gas to geothermal energy?
Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Selene Verri
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The Hungarian city of Szeged is partially reliant on Russian gas despite a recent shift to geothermal energy solutions. Nevertheless, the transition is ongoing, Tamas Medgyes from the District Heating Company of Szeged told Euronews that other cities can do the same.

Szeged, the third-largest city in Hungary, is working hard to switch to renewable, geothermal energy and has access to vast quantities of hot geothermal water deep underground.

Tamas Medgyes, the Chief Operations Officer at the District Heating Company of Szeged, said the city is less dependent on natural gas than before: "We are not replacing gas use entirely in the cold weather, but in nicer weather, we switch over to geothermal.

"We are replacing gas 100 per cent right now. During peak hours, there is a high demand for water and heat and then the gas boilers switch on, but it's approximately 50 per cent less than what we used to use.

A replicable network

"It's also a lighthouse project. It's interesting for a lot of other cities. There are hundreds of similar sized and similar gas-based systems in Europe, even coal-based systems exist, and switching these to geothermal or any renewable, for that matter, is quite important.

"So this is something that many cities would like to replicate. And actually, we have visitors from abroad, from Serbia, from Romania and even from Western Europe who are studying this and interested in what we are doing here.

Reducing dependence on Russia

"The district heating in Szeged, like most district heating systems in Hungary and actually in Eastern Europe too, is based on fossil fuels. In Szeged this is natural gas. This is imported gas. It's not Hungarian. 

"It's imported from Russia actually. This was an environmental idea. Now it has become a security of supply idea, basically, due to the war and due to the energy crisis. So what started as an environmental project is now a security of supply project too."

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