District energy delivers sustainable heating and cooling, connecting local resources to local needs. District energy is a proven solution for delivering heating, hot water and cooling services through a network of insulated pipes, from a central point of generation to the end user.
District energy networks are also referred to as heat networks or district heating and cooling networks. They are suited to feed in locally available, renewable and low-carbon energy sources. Just to name a few examples: solar thermal, geothermal heat, sustainable biomass, waste heat from industry, from commercial buildings or from other urban facilities such as data centres, underground transport or water management systems. The ability to integrate these diverse energy sources means customers are not dependent upon a single source of supply.
District energy networks are inherently diverse and variable in terms of size and load; while employing similar operating principles, each network develops according to specific local circumstances and adapts to continuous innovation.
Heat networks are based on economies of scale, as the generation of heat in one large plant can often be more efficient than production in multiple smaller ones. A growing number of cities worldwide are adopting modern district energy solutions, as the best way to bring sustainable heating and cooling in dense urban environments.
The refurbishment, construction and expansion of district energy networks (combining district heating and district cooling, integrating and balancing a large share of renewable power, serving as thermal storage) are prerequisites for the smart energy systems of the future.
The constant evolution of district heating and cooling mirrors that of the broader energy transition.
We are on a journey to an integrated energy system through more efficiency and flexibility, increased use of renewable energy and waste energy sources, new business models and unleashing the huge potential of digitalization.
As more than half of Europe’s energy is consumed for heating purposes, any policy initiative to decarbonize the energy sector would fail without addressing the topic
of heat. Today, around 75% of Europe’s heat demand is met with heat from fossil fuel-based sources, namely natural gas, oil and coal. An immense opportunity to
decarbonize the European heating and cooling sector is therefore right in front of us.