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Good Practice


General outside view of plant ©:

Since the early '90s, Dobbiaco and San Candido were looking for a source of green electricity. Considering that they are among the most famous South Tyrolean resorts, both require a significant amount of thermal energy for heating purposes. A district heating system fueled by wood chips turned out to be just one of the locally viable technological solutions best suited to the needs of environmental sustainability.

I Description of the measure

Internal view of the system ©:

Title in original language: Teleriscaldamento Termo-elettrico Dobbiaco San Candido

Location of CNA: Italy

Municipality / regional entity: Dobbiaco and San Candido (BZ)

Category of the experience: Measure
Type(s) of CNA:

Principal nomination: Technological
Secondary nomination(s): Educational

Thematic field(s):

Principal field: Energy 
Secondary field(s): Land use, Tourism, Industry & services

Spatial scale: Local
Time & duration:

Start date: From 1993 to 2003 
Duration: ongoing

Key word(s): education, energy, wood


Cover most of the thermal and electrical energy needs of the local population of Dobbiaco (3270 inhabitants), San Candido (3120 inhabitants) and tourists (more than 900,000 overnight stays per year) through the optimal utilization and integrated development of woody and forest biomass located in the local area. Ensuring an extremely short supply chain. Educate local population (and tourists) to the intelligent use of biomass for a more sustainable and efficient lifestyle. Create an easily transferable reality to other alpine locations. Make a best-practice ... a minimum standard.


The district heating plant consists of 3 biomass boilers (2x4 and 1x10 MW, 1993 MW in 2003). Two plants of condensation for the recovery of energy (8MW and 10MW) with heat accumulator of 180 m3 are also running. One ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) module - the first in South Tyrol and the biggest in Europe - generates electric energy for local use. The plant is connected to a district heating system that is developed for a total of 8.7 km. The total capacity of connection is 20.13 MW in Dobbiaco and 18.74 MW in San Candido. (source: District heating Thermo-electric Dobbiaco - San Candido Soc).


The thermal energy produced is about 50 million kWh per year; the energy sold is about 44 million kWh per year for 663 clients (379 Dobbiaco; 284 to San Candido). The electricity produced at the ORC (electrical capacity of 1500 kWel) is approximately 9 million kWh per year. It meets the local demand and a part is sold to the national grid .. (source: District heating Thermo-electric Dobbiaco - San Candido Soc)

II Assessment criteria

The Biomass nature trail ©:

Mitigation effects: High

The use of a valuable source of renewable energy such as biomass definitely produces an overall positive impact on climate change mitigation due to the significant reduction of atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases compared to traditional solutions for energy supply (gas and diesel). Thanks to a combination of electric filters and flue gas condensation, the flue gas emissions from the entire district heating plant are kept to an absolute minimum. The cooling process in the whole electricity generation process creates hot water that is supplied as district heating to the two districts.

Impacts on adaptation: Positive

As a matter of fact, the correct use of biomass could generate a potential positive impact on the resilience of the local forests. This impact can be minimized or increased by adopting a 'careful and planned management of all forest areas subject to exploitation. Local forestry heritage is exploited according to sustainability criteria in order to guarantee the maintaining of natural resilience capability.

Impacts on environment:

- Landscape: Positive
- Alpine ecosystems / biodiversity: Positive
- Water / soil / air: Positive
- "Other": Positive

In order to mitigate the potential environmental impacts sustainability criteria have been adopted for the exploitation of renewable energy sources. Special attention was given to the management of all the local woody areas subject to the exploitation so as to safeguard forestry ecosystems and local biodiversity. The production of fine particles is particularly low thanks to the adoption of best available abatement technologies.

Impacts on society:

- Social justice: Positive
- Regional / cultural identity: Very positive
- "Other": None

This CNA had a major impact on the entire local community thanks to the interesting program of education and awareness that accompanied it (see point no. 19)

Impacts on economy:

- Employment / job creation: Positive
- Added value / income: Positive
- Know how / competitiveness: Positive
- "Other": Positive

In addition to the creation of new jobs, the additional benefits for the economy are: the possible reduction of costs of energy supply for the end user compared to traditional fuels (gas and diesel); the advantages made available today by the Italian government for the exploitation of renewable energy sources (White Certificates and Energy Bill) which can be a budget item of interest for companies involved in the management of various plant systems and for the same local government .

Public relations impact and awareness-raising: Very high

See it, hear it, feel it, understand it ... Around the plant was created a real led trail, particularly suitable for schools, offering all visitors a panoramic view on methods of production of heat and electricity from biomass. Opened in June 2005, the path is the first of its kind in Europe. It is also possible to perform a "natural biomass train" that aims to bring people, especially children, to wood as raw material. The biomass nature trail directly connects the district heating plant with the local Nature Park House (see photo n.03). The district heating plant of Dobbiaco-San Candido is already included in the list of exemplary climate response measures of the cc.alps project.

Transferability: High

High replicability in all areas of the Alpine region which have a small population size (less than 10,000 inhabitants) and the possipility to ensure a constanst availability of local biomass from forests and / or of residues from the wood processing industry. The fundamental condition is, however, an extremely short supply chain also in order to minimize potential impacts due to transport of biomass from the areas of plant origin.

Cross sectoral and integrative approach: Medium

For its representative role in promoting awareness on the topic, the plant is still one of the biggest ORC modules in Europe, since 2005 it hosts a show path (first of its kind in Europe) where it is possible to get an insight into the process of generating electrical and thermal energy using biomass.

Good governance: Very high

The participatory approach to this CNA was very large by all interested stakeholers: Municipal administration of Dobbiaco and San Candido; Teleriscaldamento termo-elettrico Dobbiaco San Candido Soc. Coop; Schools; Local Turistic Agencies; Popolation; Local Media.

III Executive body and contact information

Executive body: Administration, Other public bodies, Organizations of civil society

The Dobbiaco district heating is a co-operative with limited liability. It has more than 500 members and provides about 1'000 households with district heating.

Contact person(s):

Name: Hanspeter Fuchs (President)
Institution: Teleriscaldamento Termo-Elettrico Dobbiaco-San Candido 
Address: Via Stazione 8 | I-39034 Dobbiaco 
Phone: +39 0474 973214
Fax: +39 0474 976 570

Online information: is the website completely dedicated to the Dobbiaco-San Candido plant. The website offers a complete overview of texts, images and technical data. Much of the information contained in this CNA is an excerpt from their site

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