When the original central heating and cooling plant was built for NXP’s production facility in
Toulouse, France, the world was a different place.
Some scientists thought the climate was cooling, not heating up, and governments had started passing new
regulations to limit and monitor environmental impact. An energy crisis encouraged efficiency, but
most facilities were
mechanical , as programmable
digital thermostats were still a decade away. As a result, the design of the plant made it physically
impossible to reduce its energy consumption which meant that its chillers ran at 5x the actual
demand in the winter.
So, when production of semiconductors ended in 2014, the oversized, inefficient chillers that
would now be used for only labs and offices were unable to run at the desired lower values that
were needed. The production factory was demolished in 2016 and the design of a more efficient
central plant began.
The team elected to recover the heat generated by the chillers and use it to warm the human
environments in the offices and labs, which further reduces gas consumption necessary for
Toulouse's test and measurement lab equipment generates heat, requiring cool air, even during
winter, so chillers operate all-day, every day. The team elected to recover the heat generated by
the chillers and use it to warm the human environments in the offices and labs, which further
reduces gas consumption necessary for heating.
Another major consideration when replacing the old cooling towers was the old system’s reliance on
large amounts of warm water that can be breeding grounds for Legionella bacteria if not properly
disinfected and maintained (they’re also quite unsightly). Instead, the team opted for instead for
heat exchanger technology (dry cooler), which eliminated the health risks and the need for using
chemicals to treat the water. Dry coolers also reduce the overall water consumption.
The new plant became operational in January 2021 and is expected to deliver meaningful benefits on
First, reduced electricity consumption, as the new, more efficient chillers use less
electricity. During the winter, for example, the estimated savings are 1,145 MWh/year
- Second, reduced water consumption which will save approximately 11,000 m3 of water/year
Third, reduced natural gas consumption through the heat recovery system of the chillers,
estimated to save 336 MWh/year
The area around the facility in Toulouse has also changed since the 1970s and is now heavily
residential. The new central plant is designed to reduce noise as much as possible, to make living
there more sustainable, too.
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