Hradec Králové - Industrial heating of the city, history and current status

The first study for supplying the town of Hradce Králové with heat was created by the engineer Podroužek in 1958. There were also the first ideas to situate the power station Opatovice nad Labem between the neighbouring cities of Hradce Králové and Pardubice. Since then, there have been several studies and concepts of how to resolve the heat supply for Hradec Králové. So-called temporary block and household boiler rooms were built in the newly built housing estate Slezské Sever and SNP Avenue.

The first long line of hot-water pipes was built between 1960 and 1962. After this, the part of the city situated on the right bank of the river Elbe was connected until the heat supply from the power station Opatovice became available. This occurred in the years 1976-1985.

1968 marked a watershed moment for today's industrial heating of Hradec Králové. The formal Central Administration of Energy finally decided to use the power station Opatovice as an essential source of heating for the towns Hradec Králové, Pardubice and Chrudim.

Based on the decision of the Minister of Energy, in 1968 VČE Hradec Králové newly processed a solution of heating networks and in 1969 Energoprojekt Prague processed studies and the first project tasks. It was also decided that the preparation and implementation will be provided by the power station Opatovice.

In November 1974 the district heating system (CZT) was put into operation and it started the supply of heat to Hradec Králové from the power station in Opatovice nad Labem.

Centralized heat supply in Hradec Králové

The development of Hradec Králové, after the abolition of the fort in 1893, caused extensive building activity that brought the construction of modern public and residential buildings before The Second World War. The heating of buildings, especially public ones, was already provided by central heating; the heat supply however, came from boilers using coke or coal. These buildings, including such as in Ulrichovo Square, the high school, elementary school, residential buildings in Gočárův Block and others. Industrial buildings were always heated by central heating, especially in larger companies the supply of heat came from a boiler room with the distribution of steam or water to individual objects. It is necessary to mention companies like Škoda (today ZVÚ), Fotochema, Petrof, Pilnáček (today VÚEK) and others. The fuel that was used in these boiler's rooms was coal. After the Second World War the supply started to be centralized, especially on housing estates, where block and district boiler rooms were built that used brown coal, the main fuel of that era. Gradually other boiler rooms were built in Labská kotlina I and Orlická kotlina (Tesla), later on a few in Slezské předměstí, in the area of schools and the college Flošna. These house, block and district boiler rooms had significant disadvantages, for example demands for labour, delivery of coal and removal of ash, which was accompanied by a high level of dust and air pollution over the housing estate. All the disadvantages of small heat supplies are removed by the heat production from heating plants, which has significantly better use of fuel in combined cycle than production of power in a condensing power station and the production of heat from the boiler's room. Production efficiency of the heating plant is increased to approximately 60 to 70% versus 30 to 35% in the power station. Therefore, energy represented in Hradec Králové after The Second World War was by the VČE Company who wanted to build a heating plant for the city. Its implementation, however, was stretched and its enforcement, preparation and implementation can be divided into the following periods.

1946 - 1950

Between 1947 and 1948 the location of the heating plant was proposed in front of Montas, where at present we can find residential houses, or directly on the site of Montas (formally Ippen). The location was convenient at that time, because there was a railway line, in the northern part there were 35 kV lines and a supply of water from the river Elbe. The construction site was at the centre of the heat consumption that should have been distributed by steam pipelines of pressure of 0.5 MPa by four branches to Fotochema, Škoda, the hospital and the factory Pilnáček. The main emphasis in determining the heat for customers were placed on larger industrial companies, such as Škoda, Fotochema, Lakovar, the slaughter house, Teerag, Katchner, Sehnoutka, Jitřenka, Pilnáček, brewery, dairy and others. Housing estates were connected only in cases when public buildings were connected, i. e. near Ulrichovo Square, Spas, Sokol, the hospital, the railway station, KNV, Faculty of Medicine, the court and Pospíšilova Avenue. The heating plant should have had 3 boilers with a total output of 120 t/h (80 MW), one back-pressure and one condensing set. The city authorities had reservations about the heating plant location in front of Montas, because they wanted to use the land for town facilities. Although the Škoda Company was interested in the heat use already in 1951 and the construction was under consideration, its implementation was not carried out for various reasons.

1951 - 1955

In this period construction was resumed. The construction of the heating plant was located into a different place, namely behind the ČSD, where now stands the Regional State Amelioration Administration, Kydlinovská Street. The task plan was processed; the heat consumption and dates of construction were specified.

In addition to industrial facilities, it was proposed to connect some housing estates, especially in Labská kotlina I and Orlická kotlina. It was also thought of a construction in Moravské Předměstí and Slezské Předměstí, including the industrial areas. Compared to the earlier concept, the heating plant was bigger, in the first stage 2 boilers of 75 t/h and 2 turbines of 12 MW. The heat consumption was determined:

For the year 1954         185 t/h (130 MW)
For the year 1960         250 t/h (180 MW)

17% in steam and 83% in hot water of temperatures of 135/75ºC

Use of hot water was proposed recently, reflecting the fact there was a more detailed research carried out about the heat consumption that showed a greater need for heat. It was also suggested to connect more housing estates and it was shown that use of hot water is more efficient.

The date for implementation was considered after 1955, the earliest in 1957. ZVÚ needed the heat then in 1955, and therefore it was recommended to build its own heating plant within the factory, which would be, after the implementation of the town heating plant, a top source of heat. The ZVÚ heating plant was implemented with 2 boilers of 2 x 35 t/h and 2 turbines of 6 MW, although it started to operate in 1960. The town heating plant was not implemented at all.


During the construction of the power station in Opatovice (EOP) and its start up in 1959, there were thoughts and studies about the heat supply to Hradec Králové and Pardubice. At that time, transport of heat over long distances did not exist in Czechoslovakia; therefore highly progressive proposals were rarely approved by the authorities. KNV and City Heat Commission struggled in the dealings with the authorities even with well worked-out proposals of technical solutions.

The heat supply from EOP to Hradec Králové was formed in May 1960, when the Investment task was elaborated. The knowledge about the heat consumption from previous work was used and Heat consumption for Hradec Králové was calculated:

Year                  1965  1970  Prospect
Power demand (MW)    70.116.232

In the first stage it was thought to use extra heat in EOP boilers of output of 70 MW the way that the heat would first travel to Farář¬ství and Slezské Předměstí, where at that time had begun extensive residential construction with block boiler rooms. The heat power supply from EOP to Hradec Králové was designed on the dimensions of 2 x DN 400 + 1 x DN 600 with a nominal pressure of PN 40 and hot water of 195/65°C. The operation was planned for the 1963 - 1964 heating season.

Again, for various reasons, it was not realized. It was called upon to develop solutions for the general heating network. The general plan for heating network was developed in 1963 by VČE. It comprehensively elaborated the proposed concept and the conditions for coordination of various parts of the centralized heat supply created, i.e. the source of heat distribution network and customer equipment. The prospective heat consumption of the town was clarified at 300 MW, the dimension of the heat supply was increased to 2 x DN 500 +1 x DN 700. There were three branches designed that would travel from Farářství to Slezské Předměstí, Pražské Předměstí, the hospital and south of the city. Warehouse and industrial areas were considered to supply its own heat source.

The distribution of heat from the power station Opatovice was still being delayed and the city was expanding, it was necessary to solve the heat supply fast. Everything was based on the Government approved city plan according to Resolution No. 1005 from 22nd of October 1962, where it was stated: ‘’The heat supply for the town has to be built the way, so in the first stage the block boiler rooms are used and supplemented by the pipelines that will be connected to the power station Opatovice in the future.’’

Therefore, there is a gradual construction of district boiler rooms with hot water pipelines for particular parts of the town:

  • Boiler room K 16/17 for coal, year 1963, for Slezské Předměstí
  • Boiler room K 16/17 for oil, year 1969, Slezské Předměstí
  • Boiler room Flošna for coal, year 1963, for university and housing estate
  • Boiler room AUŠ, year 1968, for the colleges
  • Third boiler ZVÚ, year 1969, for Labská kotlina and the right bank of the Elbe
  • Boiler room Malšovice, year 1970, for the housing estate
  • Boiler room Věkoše, year 1972, for the housing estate
  • Boiler room hospital, year 1973, for the hospital area

During this period, there was the first hot water network implemented from ZVÚ to Labská kotlina, of the future dimension and service operation from 1962. Therefore, the year 1962 can be regarded as the beginning of the development of centralized heat supply for the city.

The power station Opatovice was still used as the primary source for electricity generation, and therefore it was not approved to supply heat from the existing equipment, because it would have an impact on reducing the production of electricity. There were other options considered, namely,the  expansion of the power station or construction of a new power source for Hradec Králové in the area of Březhrad. The location of Březhrad was not approved because of technical, economic and territorial reasons.

Based on the decision in 1967 of the transfer of the power station Opatovice to half-peak and peak power production, it enabled economic supply of heat to Hradec Králové and Pardubice with converting part of the power station into a heating plant. The Public Administration received a letter from the Minister for Central Administration of Energy on 14th of February 1968, in which was stated that the heat supply would be implemented and started to operate in the 1973 - 1974 heating season.


Following the decision of the Minister for Energy, VČE Hradec Králové elaborated in 1968 a solution for the heat network and in 1969 Energoprojekt Prague elaborated studies of structures and the first project tasks. It was also decided that the preparation and implementation would be provided by the power station Opatovice.

General solution clarified the heat consumption of the town to 360MW, dimensions and the routes of hot and warm water network. The parameters of hot water were 180/70°C and PN 25. The locations for hot water pipelines and other fuels were defined. Based on that time principles, most of the industry was left with their own heat source. Only in the draft development plan from 1975, it appears a requirement to supply the heat from the hot water network to industries in the west and north of the city.

In advance, before the heat supply from Opatovice, based on the general plan from 1970 - 1972 there were hot water branches B implemented towards the railway station ČSD, to Labská kotlina II and Smetanovo nábřeží still from the funds of National Committee and connected to ZVÚ source. Realization of the main buildings from the Energy funds was carried out in 1972 - 1975; and these are the buildings:

  • Reconstruction of the power station
  • Heat supply from EOP to Hradec Králové
  • Distribution station Farářství
  • Hot water branch A South to Slezské Předměstí
  • Hot water branch C to Moravské Předměstí

The heat supply to the city from the power station Opatovice started on 29th of November 1974, yet only to Pražské Předměstí, Labská kotlina I and II and Moravské Předměstí; the next year to Slezské Předměstí. It was followed by further development, which consisted in the gradual building of sub-networks of hot water, gradually linking the existing district boiler rooms, constructing of transmission stations in the new and old housing estates.

After 1980

The new plan of the town was processed, as well as the whole Hradec-Pardubice conglomeration. This raised the need to prepare a new solution of heat distribution of the city, which was provided by EOP Opatovice in collaboration with Stavo¬projekt Hradec Králové in 1981. The solution included even industrial areas in the west and the north of the city, which should have been supplied by the heat from branch D, and other industrial area in Březhrad from branch F. The heat supply should have been strengthened by the fourth pipeline DN 1000 with the future output of 690 MW. The solution of heat network of the city was covered even in the study elaborated in 1983 - 1985 by Energoprojekt Prague solving the whole conglomeration. The hot water parameters were reduced to 150/60 °C. The study protocol was approved by the Federal Ministry of Fuel and Energy on 11th of April 1988 under No. 473/83. Fundamentals of the solution were also taken to the city plan that was approved by the Government of Czechoslovakia by Resolution No. 151 on 18th of May 1988.

Branch A was also realized during this period - North of Šimkova Street; by that the original plan of the heat network from 1988 was completed. The connection of Březhrad and ČSD in the north part of the town was also realized. In 1988 construction of the branch D-North begun; that allowed the connection of Gumokov and warehouse area in Pouchov. At the end of 1989, the economic contract on investment funds for the branch D - West, D - Plotiště and the distribution hub was signed, the main parties were ZVÚ and ČKD Hradec Králové. Their implementation was anticipated in the years 1991 - 1995. Subsequent continuation of the branch D - East to the industrial area influenced the use of gas in that area. The constant postponing of the construction of branch D has resulted in building many boiler rooms using gas in that area. Preparation of hot water branch D - East was stopped and its implementation postponed. It was also considered to bring the heat from the reconstructed power station in Chvaletice.

After 1990

Further development of the city heat supply from the CZT system consisted of connecting the customers in existing buildings and in new housing estate within range of SCZT EOP.

Foundation of supply for Hradec Králové

As a backup source for SCZT in Hradec Králové some sources were considered that were built before heat supply from EOP and had sufficient power to match the concept of backup.

After connecting the various areas of the city to SCZT EOP the boiler rooms using brown coal were cancelled. They had CZT sub-systems, but were not suitable as a backup source. They were:

  • Boiler room K 16/17 for Slezské Předměstí
  • Boiler room Flošna for coal, year 1963, for university and housing estate
  • Boiler room AUŠ, year 1968, for the colleges

Other boiler rooms using liquid fuel or gas were also cancelled. They did not fit into the concept of backup resources or the city’s intention of how to use them was different.

Boiler room Malšovice using oil of output of 26 MW

After connecting to EOP, it was cancelled in 1980 and in 1984 passed after the city's decision to the national enterprise Československé hudební nástroje (Czechoslovak Musical Instruments) that began its conversion to the commercial business called Melodia.

Boiler room Věkoše using gas of output of 6.3 MW

In 1992 connected to SCZT EOP and because of old equipment (from 1972) and small output cancelled and rebuilt into a workshop of Housing Enterprise.
For the CZT system were three sources from the original boiler rooms used as a backup source.

Boiler room K16/17 using oil, output of 26 MW from 1968

Till June 1987 it was the property of Housing Enterprise and later transferred to EOP free of charge. It is still owned by EOP. The boiler room was used during summer shutdowns. After cancellation of shutdowns, the technological equipment was dismantled between 1998 - 2000. It was 20 years old equipment with steam boilers, so to use it immediately was actually very problematic. The oil tanks did not meet the requirements of water management and new regulations for the safety of environment. It had to be fully reconstructed.

Boiler room ZVU - the 3rd boiler, using oil, output of 35 MW

It was adjoined to an existing coal using heating plant ZVU in 1972 by the help of state funds and it was used for the housing estate in Labská kotlina and the part of the city situated on the right bank of river Elbe till 1975, when the heat started to be supplied from EOP. Then it was used during summer shutdowns.  In the mid 80's it was transferred into the property of ZVU. The intervals of its use were getting shorter because of the heat supply from EOP. The storage of oil was not acceptable and its operation had an exception till 1989. In 1990 the water management did not provide an exception. The costs to build new storage were too high and with regards to high prices of oil, ZVU decided to stop the operation and was using only the two remaining boilers for coal.

The site of ZVU was linked to EOP in 2000. At that time, it was considered to use the heating plant ZVU as a backup source. The boilers were 40 years old, the fuel was combined - coal and gas, the supply was steam and the exchange station only gave a pressure of PN 1.6 Mpa. There were lots of people needed to operate. This meant that the readiness was not good enough, costs of operation were high, the pressure level was inadequate and the equipment was old and would need a complete reconstruction. It was not suitable as a backup source and it was cancelled.

Boiler room for Faculty hospital

The boiler room is steam and uses gas. At normal operation it supplies steam for the needs of the hospital. It is also as a backup source of heat, but only for the use of the hospital.