Bodegas Regalía de Ollauri’s geothermal energy project

You don’t have to be a fan of Jules Verne to know that the earth radiates heat from its core. In countries near the Arctic Circle, this energy has been used for years to heat buildings.  As far as I know, however, no winery has used geothermal energy in the winemaking  process until this technology was put into place by Bodegas Regalía de Ollauri in Rioja. The project was announced in early November and presented to the recent Wine Future 09 conference in Rioja, where it was received enthusiastically.

The idea is simple:  although the outside temperature may fluctuate between -10ºC and +40ºC  (14º to 104ºF)  in Rioja, the temperature at a depth of 100 meters under the winery is a constant 14º to 18ºC (57º to 65ºF).  By drilling and installing a closed circuit of pipes connected to the heating and cooling network in the winery, warm water can be pumped to the surface during the winter and conversely, cold water to the surface in the summer, thus greatly reducing the energy needed to heat or cool the winery or a room to the desired temperature,for example, for alcoholic or malolactic fermentation. The process is facilitated by using a water-water pump which releases no CO2 into the atmosphere.

Regalía de Ollauri boasts that by using this system it is the least contaminating winery in the world, reducing total CO2 emissions by 80%.

The winery has recently released a new product, Versum, made using this technology.  The name, from the Latin ‘return’, ‘turn’, change’  is meant as a symbol of returning to the earth, the source of this energy.

I applaud this idea.  Using renewable energy plays an important role in slowing down the effects of climate change. The Regalía de Ollauri project, using technology provided by Sapje, an engineering firm in Rioja, will undoubtedly be copied by other wineries, given this unlimited resource lying just below the earth’s surface.  It’s an example of copying that I like!

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