Mona Lisa can maintain his famous enigmatic smile without fear of pernicious temperature fluctuations. How tells the Associated Press, Louvre where it is kept and more than 700 buildings of the capital of France are helped to cope with the heat by one of the best-kept secrets of Paris. This secret is an underground cooling system.
The network of Paris’ “city refrigerator”, which few people know about, is right under the feet of unsuspecting Parisians at a depth of up to 30 meters. It pumps cold water through a maze of pipes 89 kilometers long. The giant air conditioner uses electricity that is generated from renewable sources. It is the largest in Europe.
Now the Paris City Hall has signed an ambitious contract to triple the size of the network by 2042 to 252 kilometers. This will make it the largest urban cooling system in the world. The new contract is designed to help the city adapt to a warming climate, and this is extremely important – in July in Europe, the air temperature reached 40 degrees Celsius.
Over the next two decades, the unique cooling network will reach hospitals, schools and subway stations. It is not yet clear how the system will grow over time hosting the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024but it is possible that it will be used at several Olympic venues.
“If all Parisian buildings were equipped with autonomous air conditioners, this would create “heat islands,” says Maggie Schelfhout, a specialist at Fraicheur de Paris (Paris Freshness), which operates a giant air conditioner. And a network of pipes with ice water, on the contrary, will be able to cool all of Paris by one degree Celsius.
Three of the 10 high-tech cooling plants are located on the Seine River. It is the river water that is used in the giant refrigerator. The heat generated as a by-product is sent back to the Seine.
Chilled water is piped to 730 customers in Paris. The most visited museum in the world, the Louvre, has been using this network since the 1990s. “This allows us to enjoy energy with a lower carbon footprint all year round,” said Laurent Le Guédard, director of heritage at the Louvre.
Unknown to millions of tourists, the underground labyrinth of pipes now chills Paris’s most iconic sights. It also cools the ardor of French legislators as it is used to bring down the temperature in the National Assembly.
The system is managed by the joint venture Fraicheur de Paris (Parisian freshness). 85% of the shares of the joint venture belong to the state-owned French energy company EDF, and the rest – to the public transport operator RATP.