Due to the energy crisis, many swimming pools have been forced to close their doors in France. The cost of the energy needed to heat and manage the pools weighs heavily on the budget of nearly 4,500 public swimming pools in France. The Conterie swimming pool in Chartres de Bretagne (35) has equipped itself with solutions, including Purecontrol, to survive this crisis. Stéphane Chatenet, director of the Syndicat intercommunal explains the strategy initiated several years ago.
We have heard of pools being forced to close because of the current and upcoming energy crisis. Can you explain the situation, and how these pools came to this decision?
“We are coming out of two years of Covid crisis, with several closures decided by the government. Some pools were already in a delicate financial situation. We were strongly impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.
Now we have a very clear increase in the cost of energy. Something that was expected, of course. But which has been multiplied by the geopolitical situation in Ukraine, and exponentially. The situation is very simple: today is faced with a multiplier of 2.6 on electricity, and 2.4 on gas for Ille-et-Vilaine. Elsewhere it is different, with amounts sometimes higher. To give you an example, we will pay 260 000€ more next year in electricity if we continue to consume as much as we did this year.
It is impossible, because of course we are part of something collective. There are also schools to be heated and lit, accommodation facilities for dependent elderly people, … All communities have a set of services to the population that are all impacted by this increase. The sports equipment is only one part of the energy shock.
The cost of energy will make it impossible for many swimming pools to operate as they are today. 70% of swimming pools in France are using gas. The rest speaks for itself: the impact of the price of gas will be extremely violent for some facilities, and not all communities are rich. It’s still a service to the population, so some facilities are also rather old. In terms of energy, this is a huge problem. Today we are faced with situations that can vary greatly from one facility to another, but which will be very difficult, even unbearable for some.”
Your pool has established a strategy to reduce energy consumption for several years now. What solutions have you put in place to address these issues?
Fortunately, the Conterie pool has been heated with wood since 2008. We have especially secured its installation and its operation. We have been improving energy and water consumption for 10 years. And last year, we insulated all the pipes in the basement, including the water treatment pipes, and installed a system to recover lost heat. This represents small savings, but together we hope to be able to cope with the crisis.
Since then, we have undertaken information actions towards the media and have received a label [Piscine de Demain, NDLR] so that the users can identify the economical and ecological side of the pool. We also provide valuable information to elected officials so that they can make appropriate decisions. It’s a set of solutions that will make it possible to have results.
It is very important for example that we have worked with Purecontrol. It is one of the important elements of our energy efficiency. The piloting allows us to better regulate our heaters, to consume less electricity. Quite simply, to be a solution of the future. You always have to be one step ahead.”
Concretely, how is Purecontrol an energy efficient solution for your pool?
“In 2017, Purecontrol looked for equipment that was already energy efficient in the Brittany region. We accepted this operation which consisted of creating a model and transmitting our data to Purecontrol so that they could feed the algorithm and develop analysis performance that is much faster than human. As I always say, it happens in nanoseconds on a computer. When I’m at the second mark, I’m very happy! So, for the past 5 years, this has allowed us to significantly improve the heating of the pools and to analyze our treatment processes. And so to be a little more energy efficient. By using the wood boiler less and better, we have fewer breakdowns and therefore consume much less gas. On the other hand, the solution helped us to bring more comfort for our users by guaranteeing the pool temperature and so on. We work safely and confidently with Purecontrol in this respect. The energy saving models by artificial intelligence are probably the closest to reality. I think a lot of people are going to understand the artificial intelligence concept today, with this energy crisis.”
What are the benefits of the Purecontrol solution and, more broadly, of your approach over the last few years?
“We are now at 10.9% of energy savings on pools. With the Nordic pool, we know that we can reach 17% on a facility that has already made huge savings. We had reduced our expenses by 80 000€ per year. We already had this very energy efficient side, which allowed us to go even further for Purecontrol. We are very happy to have taken all these steps. When electricity will increase, the cost of wood will also increase, we will not only face an energy crisis, but a financial crisis. Paying attention to all of this on a daily basis will ensure a future. The people at Purecontrol are a real support, because they have this approach too.
If every facility makes an effort in this area, we could achieve collective goals for all sports facilities and communities. In the very short term, it is to have a set of solutions of which Purecontrol is part. Knowing that Purecontrol is something simple, we just have a server to connect to our computer systems of the pool. We hope that we can continue to improve, and that we can finally get out of all these crises and find serenity.”