Urban Community of Dunkirk / Arcelor-Mittal: An ambitious partnership for a successful energy transition

By Béatrice Karas on 31 May 2016

The idea of creating an industrial waste heat network in Dunkirk, a port and industrial city in northern France, and in the neighbouring town of Saint-Pol sur Mer, dates back to the 1970s’ oil price increase.

In 1982, a survey confirmed that the most cost-efficient solution was recovering waste heat generated at the Usinor plant. Both municipalities joined together to set up SICURD (Dunkirk intercommunity district heating council) in 1983.

At the beginning of the 2000s, the prospect of increased energy demand resulted in a reflexion on the expansion of the network, which had already been upgraded with the addition of three CHP units.
At around the same time, the City and the Urban Community of Dunkirk developed a strategic plan aimed at doubling the heat network.
As part of this strategic plan, CUD regained authority over the heat network.

How various stakeholders can dialogue each other?

Political will has played a crucial role in bringing together Arcelor-Mittal and the local authorities.
A great work of sensibilisation has been done by local authorities and in the same time, the steel making company put a lot of efforts into improving its relations with local stakeholders from an environmental point of view. Its participation in the heat network may therefore be seen as an expression of goodwill and a way of maintaining good relations with local people.

Un grand travail de mobilisation a été fait par les collectivités territoriales et de son côté, l’industriel sidérurgique a fait beaucoup d’efforts pour améliorer ses relations avec les acteurs du territoire sur le plan environnemental. La participation au réseau peut donc être vue comme un moyen de manifester de la bonne volonté et d’entretenir de bonnes relations sur le territoire.

Discussions between industrial companies and CUD have been facilitated by the existence of Ecopal, a network of over 200 industries from the Dunkirk area promoting industrial ecology.

In fact, the industry no longer needed to be convinced of the benefits of the heat network highlighted by the experiment with Arcelor-Mittal in terms of additional revenues, environmental performance and corporate image. In return, the local authority is making good progress in its ambition to tackle fuel poverty and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its territory.

The benefits of the heat network are also acknowledged by the elected representatives of neighbouring municipalities and many of them have expressed their wish to be connected to it.

The Dunkirk heat network illustrates the need for stakeholders to trust each other, and is also a fine example of the fact that, with the right level of political commitment and communication, not only is it possible to reconcile economic interests, social issues and environmental requirements, but also to get a wide range of stakeholders involved in a common project.

Frédéric Mabille, Energy Director at Dunkirk Urban Community will explain the development of heating network from unavoidable industrial energy during the "Bazaar" forum session for our 2016 Conference that will be held this week in Bornova.


© photo : / Pichasso travail personnel CC BY-SA 3.0

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