Dobropillia – Novodonetske

Modernization of coal-fuelled district heating system in Novodonetske town near Dobropillia – interconnection of the networks and heat pumps to use heat of a closed coal mine

Location: Novodonetske
Programme: SUDH
Project status: Pre-Study completed
Investment: Approx. 4.6 MEUR
Payback period: Not feasible due to low local coal prices
Reduced gas consumption: n/a


Approx. 15 GWh heat from coal, approx. 5 000 tonnes CO2/year

The city of Dobropillia is the administrative centre of Dobropillia region in Donetsk oblast. It is located in the North-Western part of the oblast and 95 km West from Donetsk.

The neighbouring settlements are subordinated to Dobropillia City Council, creating an agglomeration called Greater Dobropillia. In addition to Dobropillia, it also includes the towns of Bilozerske, Bilytske and the small towns of Novodenetske and Vodianske. In 2019, the population of Greater Dobropillia was about 60 000, while Dobropillia city inhabitants are 30 000 people.

The city has a policy for gender equality and takes part in the Gender Responsive Budgeting Programme (GRB).

The DH company of Greater Dobropillia (ME “Dobro”) provides district heating to all five settlements of Greater Dobropillia. The SUDH project was proposed for Novodenetske town because a project in this town was considered most responsive to SUDH criteria.

Today, the DH company operates 18 boiler houses with a total capacity of 132 Gcal/h with coal as the single fuel. The biggest consumer of DH services is the population, consuming 80% of the total heat. Approximately 75% of Greater Dobropillia residents use district heating services. Domestic hot water (DHW) is not provided in any of the towns.

In autumn 2020, Greater Dobropillia will undergo a substantial territorial reform which implies a full re-arrangement of territorial units of Donetsk oblast and its regions. With regards to the SUDH project, the Greater Dobropillia is expected to be fully re-organised to establish a few Amalgamated Territorial Communities (ATCs) with centres in cities that are currently part of Greater Dobropillia. As of spring 2020, there is no clarity on the composition of ATCs and allocation of costs between them as the process is still ongoing. Reorganization of the DH company within the territorial reform is not envisaged.

Dobropillia Demonstration Project

The DH system of Novodonetske city has been found as the most suitable project for SUDH.

The main project idea is to install heat pumps to utilise heat of the discharge waters of a closed coalmine to generate district heating for Novodonetske. The heat capacity of the pumped mine water is estimated to cover approximately 90% of the annual heat demand of Novodonetske after interconnection of all three smaller DH networks, forming a town-wide DH network. This shall substitute use of coal for heat generation with electricity used by a heat pump.

Greater Dobropillia towns are located in the coal-mining region of Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities announced in January 2020 development of the National Program for Transformation of Coal Regions. The Programme is expected to be fully developed by the end of 2020. Among other cities, it is expected to cover the town of Novodonetske. The proposed SUDH project puts forward a practical solution for phase out of coal from the heat generation mix by replacing it with local alternative sources.

Dobropillia Demonstration Project – Details

The proposed SUDH investment project includes the following components:

  1. Installation of heat pumps to utilise heat of discharge mine waters (2.5 MW);
  2. Installation of a biofuel boiler to cover peak loads (2.5 MW);
  3. Pipeline to connect the boiler house №1 to the coal mine (approx. 2 600 m);
  4. Pipelines to interconnect smaller networks to a larger one (approx. 1 500 m);
  5. Installation of Individual Heating Substations (IHSs) in each connected building (96 pc).

Once implemented, the project is expected to benefit the local community by:

  • Saving approx.15 GWh heat from coal;
  • Saving approx. 5 000 tonnes CO2/year.

Despite the clear benefits, the project will not lead to monetary savings. This is because the coal prices in Dobropillia are lower than prices for biomass and electricity, even with consideration of the heat pump transformation factor, and there is no effective environmental policy in place that would change the current state of affairs significantly.

It is therefore recommended to view the current project not as a profit-creating investment but as an attempt to demonstrate options for replacing coal as the main fuel for district heating and a cost to improve the environmental situation in the region. The project will lead to reduction of local emissions and will therefore significantly improve local environmental situation for citizens of Novodonetske.

Before the territorial reform is implemented, according to preliminary estimates, the financial capacity of Dobropillia does not allow to take a loan, the amount of which would cover the project budget. This situation may change significantly once the territorial reform is implemented, and larger settlements (ATCs) may have larger financial resources.

Provision of additional grant financing for the project would make a significant difference for the municipality to be able to afford the outlined investment.

Current status

Pre-Study completed. In line with the project’s clear environmental benefits and interest of the local community, there is a search for suitable financing for the project with more grant components. Meanwhile, the project is paused for next steps within SUDH. The project may be considered by SUDH when the financial situation improves.