How district energy can fast-track sustainable heating and cooling
The European Commission proposed a new Renewable Energy Directive that is currently being discussed by the European Parliament and the Member States. The new Directive aims to ensure that fossil fuels are steadily replaced with sustainable energy sources. This is a challenge for our heating and cooling supply, which account for half of the energy we consume and is to 75% relying on fossil fuels.
District energy can play a key role in overcoming this challenge and creating the heating and cooling systems of tomorrow, by joining energy efficiency and renewable energy. District energy networks supply buildings with locally available energy sources and can utilize surplus heat from e.g. industrial processes and supermarkets, which would otherwise be lost. District energy will reduce the cost for the whole energy system by integrating renewable energy, recycling local heat and cold, and by storing surplus renewable electricity as heat. Heat storage is 100 times cheaper than electricity storage.
Today, only 9 % of the heating demand in Europe is provided by district heating and cooling. There is huge potential to expand the use of district energy as one of the most efficient, sustainable and reliable energy supply systems yet discovered.
In many countries, renewables play a more and more dominant role in the district energy network. Solar and wind power, surplus heat from power plants, industrial plants or incineration plants, biomass, geothermal energy, hydro-power, you name it – district energy can use any energy source imaginable.