See News

Solar energy heats water in UT swimming pool and showers

“We had been itching to get started on this project for years, and now it’s almost finished”, says Roy Ramakers (Facility Service Centre, Maintenance) with a broad smile on his face. For many years now, the University of Twente in general and the Facility Service Centre (FSC) in particular have been making every effort to operate more sustainably. Making the swimming pool more sustainable will be a big help in this endeavour. A number of FSC staff, together with the Campus administrative unit and various contractors are working to cover the outdoor pool and install 40 solar collectors.

Swimming pool energy consumption

The outdoor pool’s temperature needs to stay pretty constant, to ensure that the water is pleasantly warm for swimmers. This means that the water has to be heated. That takes energy, and lots of it.  

Measures: covering the swimming pool and installing various solar panels

To keep heat loss to a minimum, the swimming pools will be covered when not in use. The more technically sophisticated “solar slat” cover was selected for the training pool, which can also be covered during the day. These slats prevent the pool’s heat from leaking away, while letting through any incoming heat (produced when the cover absorbs sunlight). A folding cover, which is partially buried in the ground, was the option chosen for the larger pool. This design ensures that the lifeguards still have an uninterrupted view of the pool area, so it is still safe to swim in the University of Twente’s outdoor pool. 

In total, no fewer than 40 solar collectors are being installed. These panels are situated on the roof of the changing room, on the existing boiler, and on the roof terrace. The energy they generate will be used to heat water, both for the swimming pool itself and for the nearby showers (which are now nearing completion).                              

Result                                                                                                                                                                        

This is expected to produce a 90% decrease in gas consumption. There will also be a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. The investment will be recouped in just over seven years. While the latter is, of course, an important consideration, the simple fact is that efforts to achieve sustainability often require an initial investment.

Challenges

The first challenge was to reserve the budgets, an issue that was discussed for several years. Construction was scheduled to begin just before the start of the swimming season, but the FSC naturally wanted to help swimmers make the most of the peace and sunshine. So it made every effort to minimise the inconvenience involved. When the folding panels were being installed, we discovered that the foundations of the diving board were in the way, and had to be moved. We love a challenge: the final touches are now being made to the shower water heating system.