FOCUS SMART HEATING – SYSTEM INTEGRATION
By Steen Schelle Jensen, Head of Product Management – Heat/Cooling Solutions, Kamstrup
The district heating system of the future is characterised by high efficiency and low temperatures enabling integration of green and sustainable energy sources. International regulatory frameworks are paving the way but making it a reality is in the hands of utilities and their customers. Digitalisation is part of the solution. From all levels of the district energy sector there is a clear consensus that the decarbonisation of Europe’s energy supply relies on the expansion of district heating as well as increasing the share of renewable energy and waste heat. This includes energy generated from fluctuating sources like solar and wind as well as waste heat e.g. from industry, data centres and super markets, which the district heating system can utilise and store. The regulatory framework promoting these changes is already in place as part of the EU’s Clean Energy Package including the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED). THE CLEAN ENERGY PACKAGE According to Article 14 and 15 of the Energy Efficiency Directive, member states must perform comprehensive assessments to evaluate the potential for implementing more district heating. And Article 23 in the new Renewable Energy Directive stipulates that they must endeavour to increase the share of renewables and waste heat in district heating by 1.3% each year.
Today, buildings account for half of the total energy consumption in Europe and are still largely fossil fuelled. Expanding the use of sustainable district heating and optimising the energy performance of buildings are therefore critical components in the green transition. This makes network temperatures a key factor. LOWER TEMPERATURES = HIGHER EFFICIENCY Integrating more green energy into the district heating system requires utilities to lower temperatures in the network – both flow and return temperatures. As an example, the lower your flow temperature, themore waste heat you can utilise in your system. While some waste heat has a high enough temperature to go directly into the district heating system, most of it does not reach the temperature levels of traditional heat sources, which means heat pumps are necessary to raise the temperature. And the lower return temperatures you get into your heat pump – which could be powered by renewable energy – the more efficient it will be. An average utility’s cost curve (Figure 1) shows that in addition to benefitting the environment there are also significant financial savings to be made from lower temperatures, e.g. through reduced heat loss, pumping costs and more efficient production. But while the advantages of lowering temperatures are well-known, it remains a complex task. However, today’s technology has now reached a point where it can support utilities in their temperature optimisation by making it more streamlined and data-driven.
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