Delivering the Energy Transition: What Role for District Energy?

Published: 03/11/2016

The EU climate goals call for major improvements in energy efficiency at the overall energy system level and a shift towards low carbon energy sources. Representing the EU’s biggest energy demand, heating and cooling form an important part of this challenge.

In this strategy paper for Euroheat & Power, Ecofys investigates the role that district heating and cooling (DH&C) networks will play in the energy transition towards 2050. The fundamental question is how the corresponding infrastructures can be developed in a smart way to achieve a low-carbon, safe and affordable energy system. In particular, Ecofys addresses these key questions:

  • How does DH&C develop while energy demands in buildings are decreasing?
  • What is the role of DH&C in bringing renewable energy sources (RES) to high density city areas and villages?
  • How would DH&C solutions support the balance of demand and supply?

The transformation ahead will be both a national and a local one, with different solutions for different localities and geographies. The report recommends to move forward with a national and local policy that evaluates the individual local conditions to harness the low-carbon energy sources. This will allow to map the potentials for low-carbon heating and cooling in buildings and determine the technologies that exploit them in their full potential.