THE OWNER’S ENGINEER ROLE IN SECURING THE RIGHT COMPONENTS District heating and cooling (DHC) systems are generally long-term investments and are relatively cost-intensive to implement. Systems will be in operation for many years, and some system elements will be buried in the ground, hence not easily accessible. Therefore, significant consideration must be given to the choices made when procuring components for a DHC-system.
transition. They decided in 2015 that by 2025, the heat supply temperature would be decreased from 80-90oC to 60-70oC.
tems and Smartphone applications. They even made available information about energy renovation funds and good practic- es by creating a website (and soon a catalogue) where citizens could get oriented about what to do and why it was important to reduce the temperature in the grid. The municipality is so far keeping on target, with a new milestone of having a 60ºC supply temperature by 2026. This case emphasizes the importance of the local conditions when embarking on an energy system transition. In Albert- slund, from the very local parameters have emerged ways of transforming the energy system, thereby enhancing the mu- nicipality and inhabitants’ lives.
To achieve this target, the practitioners installed Smart Meters, used drones to identify heat losses in the grid, and developed new services ensuring the efficient operation of their cus- tomers' heat units. Communication with the inhabitants was also a significant part of the strategy; the utility spent a great deal of workforce engaging in dialogue with their inhabitants, measuring dwellings' radiators sizes and insulation layers, all to develop interactive maps to communicate about low-tem- perature grids. They also incentivized their customers in under- standing (and reducing) their consumption with new tariff sys-
Policy insights to support DH systems development Getting started requires two main conditions: having adequate regulation at the national level to provide a common framework of decision-making practices and considering the local parameters of the sites in which the transitions are materializing. Energy systems are deeply influenced by how practition- ers create, operate, and maintain them. These systems are bounded by how energy practitioners, city planners, engi- neers, systemmanagers, and politicians operate and work with the infrastructures at hand. Deep transformations,
such as getting rid of natural gas will require new ways of working together. Urban and heat planning must be performed together to ensure space for decentral heating productions. National policy must help redirect invest- ments from gas and other fossil fuel sources to renewable production. Communication with end-users must be im- proved, and heat planning must continue to be a public responsibility for the security of supply and sovereignty. In other terms, energy transitions demand a new paradigm of working together.
By Joao Ricardo Elias, Project Manager, Ramboll
The components incorporated in a DHC-system represent a substantial share of the system’s Capital Expenditures (CapEx) and Operating Expenses (OpEx). Hence the choices made by the Owner regarding these components are a decisive factor in the competitiveness of the system. Components are also determinants for the entire system’s lev- els of security of supply, energy efficiency (EE), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and health, safety, and environment (HSE).
The choices of components must therefore take all these fac- tors into account.
System perspective To optimize the DHC-system the specification of each compo- nent must take into consideration the component’s contribu- tion to the performance of the system. It is crucial to prioritize the system’s optimization in relation to the optimization of the component itself. This is because the system’s performance re- sults from the combined performance of its elements, and the different parts contribute differently to the various indicators of the system’s performance. The aspects of the component’s performance that contribute crucially to the system’s performance are therefore those that must be optimized. These aspects must thus be identified to focus on them when setting the requirements for the specific component. To do so, it is necessary to determine how and when the component both must, as a requirement, and can, during an incident, interact with other elements of the specif- ic system. This requires knowledge of the system’s overall ob- jectives and an understanding of how the system’s structure supports the fulfilment of these objectives under the identified system’s constraints. It is only through careful engineering of
What makes this subject exciting to you? I knew nothing about DH when I started my research. It is not a well-developed technology in France, where I come from. But while talking with the actors, understanding their reasonings, and witnessing how they are trying to make a difference with this degree of commitment, I became very enthusiastic about this infrastructure. DH may not sound very appealing, but it is and will become a hot topic in the coming years; I do not doubt that.. What will your findings do for DH? Time will tell! I am now working as an energy planner at the municipality of Copenhagen and hope that I will contribute to the development of the regional DH infrastructure. The challenges ahead of us are great, and the uncertainties are aplenty. I am very curious about what the system will look like in 10, 15, and 30 years. And if I see the establishment of a few heat pumps within Copenhagen in the coming years, I could consider having somehow contributed to the field!.
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