HOT|COOL NO. 2/2017 - "The Winter Package"


Moving forward The Winter Package is a welcome development but can only be seen as the first step. Amuchmore integrated approach is needed in the future. One explicitly positive development from theWinter Package for the district heating sector has been the proposal in the Renewable Energy Directive to work towards binding renewable heat share targets, with a proposed yearly increase of 1%. If passed, this action will be the first step allowing for the concrete replacement of oil and gas boilers, and a direct incentive to capture and use excess heat from industry. In addition, as Figure 5 shows, district heating and cooling can be a key technology

Another example, with a much higher potential for district heating, is the Cologne area of Germany, depicted in Figure 4, in which both a high heat demand density as well as numerous excess heat activities are located. More than 50 excess heat facilities are located in the area, and the 10 largest ones have a theoretical excess heat available of more than 600 PJ, while the heat demand in the area is slightly more than 200 PJ. These excess heat facilities are a combination of large (fossil fuel) power plants, waste-to-energy facilities, ferrous and non-ferrous metal production, food processing facilities, chemical industries and petroleum refineries, etc.

to decarbonise the heating and cooling supply in cities, and be able to integrate further renewables.

Through various mechanisms, district heating and cooling allow for a better integration of renewables. This is especially the case if the building stock is energy efficient, and able to integrate low temperature energy sources. Firstly, the connection with the electricity sector through combined heat and power (CHP) – especially in combination with thermal storage – allows for more flexibility in the electricity system, and a higher integration of intermittent renewables, such as wind. Secondly, large heat pumps can be used to integrate more wind into the energy system, and avoid the need for fuels in the heating and cooling sector. Lastly, some sources of renewable energy, such as excess heat, geothermal and solar district heating, can only become available if there is a district heating system already installed. This is also the case for (cheaper) large-scale thermal storage. Since

Figure 4: An image from Peta 4 ( showing Cologne and the Ruhrgebiet.

renewables can be integrated into district heating systems so efficiently, a potential renewable heat obligation could be a catalyst for implementation of district heating on the ground.

Both examples, although very different in scale, show areas where the excess heat activities have a theoretical output of more than three times the heat demand. This means that even if only a part

of the heat can be harvested for district heating, a very substantial share of the heat demand can be covered using resources that are efficient or renewable. In addition, this currently does not even include potentials such as geothermal or solar district heating. The potential for harnessing excess heat in Europe is huge, but has largely not been realised. Through the proposed renewables obligation and the classification of excess heat, it may be possible to start seeing real developments in utilizing these resources.

Figure 5: Share of renewable energy in the heating and cooling sector for the EU28 shown with the level of district heating penetration for 2015.


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