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Vila Nova de Gaia – Portugal

Solar water heating in a public swimming pool


The public swimming pool in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal had high heating costs because the pool water was being heated using propane gas. Therefore, the city considered alternative means for heating the pool and decided to install solar water heating. Not only does the solar thermal system provide a much cheaper way of heating the pool, it also utilises a renewable energy source with no associated CO2 emissions.

Building details

Type of building : Public swimming pool
Year of construction/ Floor area/ Operating hours : Swimming pool area : 415m2

Swimming pool volume : 622m3

Operating hours : 12 hours/day ; 11 months/year

Heating and cooling / measures installed Two gas boilers of 300,000 kcal/h each and a solar thermal heating system for the pool water.
Energy/CO2/Water label (before and after improvements if possible) A Display® Certificate has not yet been produced for the swimming pool.

Project Description

Aim The aim of this project was to reduce the energy used to heat the swimming pool water, thereby reducing the associated energy cost.
Key points The city decided to install a solar thermal heating system, because no other renewable energy systems were available at the time.

_ The following equipment was installed as part of the solar heating system :

  • 95 solar collectors, area : 220m2 ;
  • Pumping system ;
  • Heat exchanger ;
  • Control system ;
  • Data logger, recording data every 5 minutes ;
  • Thermal cover to retain heat in the swimming pool, used at night.

_ The solar system heats the pool water. When the solar system is unable to fulfil the thermal needs of the pool, the system uses the heat produced by the gas boilers.

Solar collectors

Pump and control system

Reason for inclusion as Shining Example This Shining Example shows the significant savings of energy, money and CO2 emissions that can be achieved by utilising a solar thermal heating system instead of a gas heating system.

Costs & Benefits

Costs & funding The project cost €130,000. It was co-financed at a rate of 40% by the national improvement programme for the economy within the MAPE measure intended to develop the use of renewable energy.

_ The payback time for this project is 5.8 years, or 3.6 years taking into account the co-financing.
Benefits Replacing the propane gas heating system with a solar thermal heating system has resulted in the following benefits :

Energy saved:202MWh/year

CO2 emissions avoided:92 tonnes/year

Money saved : €22,000/year

_ The effectiveness of the system can also be monitored because the data loggers provide information on the operation of the system and the weather.

_ New skills and knowledge have been gained by those involved in this project.

Partners & Roles

Partnership details There were no external partners involved in this project.


Achievements Data from the solar heating system has been collected using the data loggers installed. This data is currently being analysed and the results will be published soon.

_ However, preliminary results show that in 2006 the system produced approximately 233MWh of energy, with a performance of 63%- so 63% of the available energy from the sun was utilised by the solar thermal system to heat the pool water.

_ The following chart shows the energy produced by the sun (yellow bars) and the subsequent energy that the solar thermal heating system delivered to the pool water (grey bars), for each month of 2006.

Lessons Learned If this project was to be replicated, it is recommended that the solar water heating system should also be used to heat shower water, as well as the pool water.

To know more

Organisation name ENERGAIA - Agência Municipal de Energia de Gaia
Contact José Sousa Pinto
Phone +351 22 374 72 50

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