HOT|COOL NO.2/2021 - "Economics, Finance & Money"

Demonstrating 100% fossil free district heating & cooling solutions across Europe

Lessons learned from the ongoing WEDISTRICT project

By: Mathilde Johanne Cordua – Climate Assistant and Frederik Palshøj Bigum – Project Manager, Ramboll

The Horizon 2020 project Renewable District Heating and Cooling (DHC), in short W.E.DISTRICT, investigates technologies in four demonstration sites in Europe. The WEDISTRCIT project aims to showcase DHC systems that help improve efficiency, enable fluctuating renewable energy sources (RES), and provide cost-effective security of supply. Through theWEDISTRICT project, an overviewof the current stock of DHC and the future development trends for the district energymarkets inEurope has been assessed. By identifying inefficiencies, barriers, and improvement potentials in the current DHC systems in Europe, the ‘lessons learned’ are taken into account in theWEDISTRICT designs for new and retrofitting of existing DHC. Today, the heating and cooling of buildings in the EU account for 50% of the total energy consumption. 70% of this energy is still generated from fossil fuels. To identify improvement possibilities, it is necessary to understand the current stock of DHC and the energy market of the European Union member countries. The state of the DHC and market structure vary significantly between the member states of the EU. Hence the assessment of each country of the EU28, and Norway, the UK, and Switzerland are divided into three groups based on their share of district heating (DH) compared to the total heat demand in the residential sector.




Less than 10% of residential heating

Greater than 10% but less than 50% of residential heating

Greater than 50% of residential heating

Most of the countries are represented in the group of small shares of DH, which also shows the most diverse range of the state of the DHC. The medium share group is a mix of countries, some of which have older DH systems that need investments for refurbishments. Some countries have traditionally relied on other sources for heating, although they have invested in the development of DHC. Lastly, the countries with a significant share of DH are generally at the forefront of innovation, with political support and established market structures that can further improve.

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