Genève Aéroport connected to GeniLac: work begins

Thanks to its connection to SIG's GeniLac ecological thermal network, Genève Aéroport will be able to pass itself from fossil fuels to cool and heat its buildings from 2026.

Thanks to its connection to SIG's GeniLac ecological thermal network, Genève Aéroport will be able to pass itself from fossil fuels to cool and heat its buildings from 2026. This essential project for the energy transition of the airport site was officially launched on Tuesday 29 November in the presence of State Councillors Antonio Hodgers and Serge Dal Busco, as well as the presidents and general managers of the two autonomous public utilities.  

Geneva Airport will thus be able to abandon its oil-fired boiler room, saving 2 million litres of fuel oil per year. The airport site will avoid the emission of 5,300 tonnes of CO2 each year and will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 60%. "Despite the health and financial crisis, we have maintained our strategic projects. Our connection to GeniLac requires an investment of CHF 37 million on our part to adapt our infrastructure and create new equipment. It is essential to ensure our ecological transition," explains André Schneider, CEO of Genève Aéroport.

At the heart of GeniLac, Lake Geneva 

GeniLac, designed by the Services industriels de Genève (SIG), is the largest hydrothermal network in Geneva. It aims to replace energy-hungry air conditioners and boilers that run on fossil fuels. The water is collected from the bottom of Lake Geneva at a depth of 45 metres and an average temperature of 7 degrees. It is then sent to the Vengeron pumping station, which supplies the GeniLac network. This network goes up to the airport and the Etang district in Vernier.

Pooling the needs of SIG and Genève Aéroport

In order to connect Genève Aéroport to the GeniLac network, it is necessary to build a substation which will be equipped with two heat pumps. Genève Aéroport and SIG have decided to pool their efforts and to build a thermal power station together. The latter will house the GeniLac substation on one side and two gas boilers on the other, which will serve as back-up in case of extreme cold and in case of breakdown. This new thermal power station, called the East power station, of 3800 m2, is financed to the tune of 54 million by SIG and 7 million by Genève Aéroport.   

"This project is the result of a fruitful collaboration between the Airport and SIG and is an important step forward in the fight against global warming," says Christian Brunier, CEO of SIG. "Renewable energy provides us with the means to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions without reducing our comfort. This project also allows us to strengthen our energy independence.   

In its Energy Master Plan, the Canton of Geneva has set itself the objective of distributing 1150 GWh of heat and 150 GWh of cold per year from renewable and recovered energy sources by 2050. Eventually, the GeniLac network will contribute to reaching these objectives for 25% of the heat and all of the cold distribution.   

"The 5,300 tonnes of CO2 saved thanks to the airport connection are only the first step towards the significant CO2 reductions that will eventually be achieved thanks to GeniLac. In fact, other consumers will be connected along the route of this network, such as the Etang district and Balexert," explains Antonio Hodgers, State Councillor responsible for the Department of the Territory.   

Until this thermal power plant is commissioned in 2026, adaptation work will be carried out on the existing freight buildings up to the terminal building. New buildings, such as the East Wing, are designed to be directly connected to GeniLac. Two other thermal power plants will be renovated by Geneva Airport in 2023-2024 to complete the network.