Veolia Energy North America has awarded a design/build contract to Progressive AE to upgrade its Grand Rapids district energy (heating and cooling) system in Michigan, US. Based in Grand Rapids, Progressive AE will design and install a cutting-edge condensing heat exchanger, which is a sophisticated heat recovery technology that is expected to reduce the volume of fuel consumed by at least 5%.

This major upgrade will ensure competitive steam rates for customers served by the Grand Rapids district energy facility, while lowering the cost per unit weight of steam produced and reducing its overall carbon footprint.

Since the acquisition of the Kent County District Heating and Cooling system in December 2008, Veolia Energy has undertaken a systematic implementation process to increase the efficiency of the operations. The installation of the condensing heat exchanger is just one of several planned upgrades, which will also include re-insulating piping in manholes to reduce heat loss and reducing distribution system leaks. In addition, Veolia Energy will replace the old low pressure distribution system, which constitutes about one quarter of the total distribution system, with a high pressure system over the next three years.

District energy plays an integral role in Grand Rapids’ infrastructure, where Veolia Energy serves approximately 125 commercial, government, institutional and healthcare customers. The centrally-produced thermal energy is distributed to customers in the central business district along 6 km of high pressure and 2 km of low pressure steam pipes.