Bucharest to spend €250m on world’s biggest plumbing job

The European Commission has approved a Romanian plan to spend €254m of its structural funds to repair Bucharest’s city-wide district heating system. 

Altogether, Bucharest has 950km of main pipes and almost 3,000km of secondary pipes, which supply 1.2 million people in 562,000 flats in 8,200 apartment blocks. It is the second biggest district heating system in the world, after Moscow.

In 2019, it emerged that Radet, the state-owned company that operates the system, was losing as much as 2,000 tons of hot water an hour (see further reading).

Ciprian Ciucu, a member of Bucharest council, commented at the time: "The Radet network is in very bad shape and so the pressure needs to be increased for the heat to reach the houses. And when the pressure goes up, other damage occurs. It’s a vicious circle."

Problems have continued since. According to the Romania Insider website, thousands of Bucharest households were left without heating or hot water this winter, sometimes for several days in a row, due to burst pipes and network failures.

The repair job will aim to restore the integrity of the pipes that distribute the hot water. In particular, the main heat transmission pipes will be replaced, involving the renewal of about 10% of the network’s total length.

Margrethe Vestager, an executive vice president of the European Commission, commented: "This €254m aid measure, funded through the EU structural funds, will help Romania achieve its energy efficiency targets and help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants without unduly distorting competition."

Image: Radet workers in action in Bucharest (Radets)

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