Hot|Cool NO.3/2016 - "Cooperation in the energy sector"


Quantifying the benefits of district heating In the Heat Roadmap Europe studies, we have quantified how a more connected heating sector, with district heating playing a major role, would perform in terms of cost, energy efficiency, and renewability. Part of this has been understanding how much of Europe’s heat demand is located in urban areas with a sufficient heat demand for district heating using advanced geographical information systems and energy planning models such as EnergyPLAN ( The results indicated that approximately 50% of the heat demand in Europe’s buildings are within areas with sufficiently high heat demands for district heating, even though less than 15% of the heat demand is currently supplied using district heating. By facilitating the integration of more excess heat, industrial heat, renewable heat, and renewable electricity, district heating can simultaneously increase the efficiency and utilisation of the renewable energy in the energy system. These benefits are created by district heating and its ability to create new connections in the system between the different energy sectors, so they are only visible if a total energy system approach is used to model and analyse the alternatives in the heating sector. This is because the connectedness means that the benefits will fall across multiple sectors rather than one. For example, capturing excess heat from the power plants will occur in the electricity sector, but the benefits will primarily occur in the heating sector. Similarly, integrating wind power using thermal storage will require an initial investment in the heating sector (i.e. to develop the network and storage), but it will also benefit the electricity sector by facilitating the integration of more intermittent renewable electricity. The challenge for the energy and district heating sector is creating these connections and finding new ways of cooperating, but the possibilities for district heating can be quantified and understood with holistic energy models that can show the potential connections and synergies.

Figure 4: Cost and efficiency of various forms of energy storage.

An example of this is presented in Figure 5 for a district heating network in western Denmark. The electric boiler in the district heating plant is activated when there is a high production of wind power, signified by the low electricity price on the spot market. In the early hours of Figure 5, the electric boiler provides heat to the consumers, which is evident by the amount of energy in the thermal storage between midnight and 05:30. However, after 05:30, the heat production is too high, so the heat produced by the electric boiler is stored in the thermal storage between 05:30 and 08:00. After 08:00, the electricity price on the spot market increases again due to a reducing wind power penetration, so the electric boiler is deactivated. Therefore, the heat that was stored can now be used to supply the consumers between 08:00 and 12:00, demonstrated by the reduction in heat stored within the thermal storage tank. Therefore, excess wind was used to fill the thermal storage between 05:30 and 08:00, and this heat was used to supply consumers during a period of low wind from 08:00 to 12:00. District heating is effectively utilising excess wind power that would otherwise be curtailed or exported at a very low price. If the district heating network is not in place, then wind power could not be integrated using cheap thermal storage like the one installed in this district heating network. This connection between the thermal sector and the electricity sector allows for a better use of resources in both sectors.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 695989.

For further information please contact:

Aalborg University Att.: David Connolly Institut for Planlægning, København

A.C. Meyers Vænge 15 DK-2450 København SV

Phone: +45 9940 2483

Figure 5: Integrating wind power with thermal storage on a district heating network in Denmark on the 16th March 2014: From Anders Anderson of EMD International ( [8].

References 1/D. Connolly, B. V Mathiesen, P. A. Østergaard, B. Möller, S. Nielsen, H. Lund, D. Trier, U. Persson, D. Nilsson, and S. Werner, “Heat Roadmap Europe: First pre-study for EU27.” Aalborg University, Halmstad University, and Euroheat & Power, 2012. 2/D. Connolly, B. V Mathiesen, P. A. Østergaard, B. Möller, S. Nielsen, H. Lund, U. Persson, S. Werner, J. Grözinger, T. Boermans, M. Bosquet, and D. Trier, “Heat Roadmap Europe: Second pre-study.” Aalborg University, Halmstad University, Ecofys Germany GmbH, PlanEnergi, and Euroheat & Power, 2013. 3/D. Connolly, H. Lund, B. V. Mathiesen, S. Werner, B. Möller, U. Persson, T. Boermans, D. Trier, P. A. Østergaard, and S. Nielsen, “Heat Roadmap Europe: Combining district heating with heat savings to decar- bonise the EU energy system,” Energy Policy, vol. 65, no. 0, pp. 475–489, 2014. 4/D. Connolly, K. Hansen, D. Drysdale, H. Lund, B. V. Mathiesen, S. Werner, U. Persson, B. Möller, O. G. Wilke, K. Bettgenhäuser, W. Pouwels, T. Boermans, T. Novosel, G. Krajacic, N. Duic, D. Trier, D. Møller, A. M. Odgaard, and L. L. Jensen, “Enhanced Heating and Cooling Plans to Quantify the Impact of Increased Energy Efficiency in EU Member States (Heat Roadmap Europe 3),” 2015. 5/“Heat Roadmap Europe,” 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 01-Mar-2016]. 6/B. Moller and S. Werner, “STRATEGO WP2 Background Report 6: Quantifying the Potential for District Heating and Cooling in EU Member States,” 2015. 7/B. Möller, “STRATEGO WP2 Background Report 9: Mapping the Renewable Heat Resources in Europe,” 2015. 8/“EMD International A/S.” [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 16-Mar-2014].


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