District Heating drives urban heating transition
District heating is a safe and reliable form of heating that provides resource efficient, low CO2-emitting solutions. It is often produced in combination with electricity, which reduces environmental impact.
District heating is produced in one or several central production facilities and distributed to various buildings through underground pipes. Industry excess heat from electricity generation, other industries and waste incineration is used in district heating.
Thinking in districts has a strong interconnection to thinking in highly efficient district heating: In urban areas, climate-neutral district concepts rather than single-building approaches would provide an optimal contribution to decarbonisation and sustainability targets.
District heating is a safe and reliable form of heating, with little environmental impact. It is often produced in combination with electricity, which reduces environmental impact.
District heating allows the use of waste heat that is captured in places where a lot of it is created, such as in electricity production and waste incineration.
Traditionally, a district heating consumer may buy district heat only from one supplier. District heating is viewed as a natural monopoly in most countries. Local district heating markets are often state-regulated and district heating companies are not allowed to make a profit. District heating companies in some countries are allowed to earn a profit, although the prices charged must often be approved by a government authority.
Dominant heating method in Nordic countries
The position of district heating on the heating market varies between countries, based on traditional differences and infrastructure design. In parts of northern and eastern Europe, approximately 50 per cent of all households are currently heated by district heating. It is the dominant heating method in all Nordic countries, except Norway, and is prominent in Germany and the Netherlands.
District heating networks are a proven solution for delivering heating, hot water and cooling services through a network of insulated pipes, from central points of generation to the end user. They are suited to feed in locally available, renewable and low-carbon energy sources, that is solar thermal and geothermal heat, excess heat from industry and commercial buildings as well as heat from combined heat and power plants. The ability to integrate diverse energy sources means customers are not dependent upon a single source of supply.
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Owners or tenants of homes, offices, hotels or public facilities.
2. Combined heat and power (CHP) plant
In combined heat and power plants, electricity and heat are generated in an environmentally-friendly, coupled process. They are fed into the electricity or the district heating grid. The district heating grid provides heating and hot water for offices, public facilities and homes.
3. Heat pumps
Heat pumps offer energy-efficient alternatives to other heating methods like furnaces or air conditioning. They move rather than generate heat and can provide space conditioning, that is heating or cooling. Heat pumps work well in climates with moderate climate conditions.
Heat is generated through the incineration of combustible waste which is a way of recovering its energy, that is heat from waste.
5. Industry excess heat
Processes used by heat intensive industries, like refineries, iron mills and so on, offer the potential for recovering 'waste' industrial heat, which could be used to supply a range of energy demands, for example district heating networks.