About district heating

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.

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.

Where does the heat actually come from?

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.

Enlarged illustration

1. Customers

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.

4. Waste-to-energy

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.

Last updated: 2017-12-28 13:55