DBDH publishes Hot Cool, but the main business is helping cities or regions in their green transition. We will help you find specific answers for a sustainable district heating solution or integrate green technology into an existing district heating system in your region – for free! Any city, or utility in the world, can call DBDH and find help for a green district heating solution suitable for their city. A similar system is often operating in Denmark, being the most advanced district heating country globally. DBDH then organizes visits to Danish reference utilities or expert delegations from Denmark to your city. For real or virtually in webinars or web meetings. DBDH is a non-profit organization - so guidance by DBDH is free of charge. Just call us. We'd love to help you district energize your city!

NO. 6 / 2023



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By Lars Gullev 3

DISTRICT HEATING STEPPING STONES –towards a sustainable heat solution

By Thomas Enevold 6





By Christian Damsgaard Jensen 18


The cover photo of this Hot Cool edition shows the Arketype 4 designed by Arkikon for Copenhagen municipality. You will find the article "How architecture can improve new DH facilities" written by Thomas Enevold, CEO and founder of Arkikon on page 6.

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Editor-in-Chief: Lars Gullev, VEKS

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DISTRICT HEATING STEPPING STONES – towards a sustainable heat solution Focus on supporting a green transition does not necessarily mean that the only right path is to transition 100% from fossil fuels to renewable energy in one go. Nevertheless, carbon neutrality or CO2-negative emissions is the goal – and there should be a plan to reach it.

By Lars Gullev, Senior Consultant, VEKS

Previous investments in fossil-based production facilities will not be wasted. They can be used as a step or steppingstone towards a green heat supply, as the historical development of the Danish district heating sector confirms. For clarity, the expansion is divided into phases, but the phases can overlap. Today, through careful planning, we can gain early access to introducing sustainable heat sources, thus more rap- idly displacing fossil alternatives. Finally, it demonstrates how Copenhagen has gone through this development – and pro- vides a hint at the next stone. Buildings are individually heated with fossil fuels, such as natural gas. A range of buildings are individually heated with their small boilers using coal, oil, or natural gas as fuel. An alternative to this individual solution is to base the build- ing's heat supply on a common heat center and a district heat- ing network that distributes heat to individual buildings. Ide- ally, this heat center should be based on sustainable biomass, but the next best thing would be a heat center based on fossil fuels.

Transitioning a city from, for example, natural gas to green heat sources is a massive undertaking. This article argues that the goal of CO 2 neutrality is right but that the path to it consists of a series of stepping stones, each contributing to the goal, with cities gradually reducing the use of fossil fuels over time. We must be careful not to let the dream of having the perfect system in a few years hinder us from taking important steps in the right direction as early as tomorrow, bringing us to our goal within the set time frame. The primary goal must and should be to ensure a complete re- duction in CO 2 emissions. This can be achieved by transitioning from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas to sustainable biomass, solar or wind-based electricity, industrial waste heat, or waste heat from waste incineration plants. A significant and essential first step is to transition smaller individual fossil-based systems to district heating partially based on coal, oil, or natu- ral gas – as a starting point. As mentioned, this article describes that just because you can- not transition to 100% CO 2 -neutral heat production right here and now, it does not mean you should do nothing.

Expansion of the district heating network There is still surplus heat available that cannot be utilized be- cause the heat demand in the existing district heating system is limited. Therefore, there is now a basis for expanding the district heating system to utilize more surplus heat – thereby further reducing the use of fossil fuels, both from new custom- ers converted to district heating and from fossil-fired boilers in the district heating system. The fossil-based boilers continue to cover heat demand when heat deliveries from surplus heat providers are insufficient to meet heat demand. Establishment of green heat sources Now that all surplus heat has been utilized, the district heating network continues to expand with new customers. The imme- diate consequence is that the proportion of heat produced by fossil-based boilers increases. This is not good for CO 2 emis- sions. In reality, this effect is reduced by the early introduction of green heat sources while expanding the network.

The decision-making basis for such a decision – FID (Final In- vestment Decision) – will involve comparing the total costs (TOTEX) for heating in the individual scenario with the corre- sponding costs in the district heating scenario. For both solutions, both CAPEX (capital costs) and OPEX (op- erating costs) need to be calculated before a clear picture of TOTEX is obtained. When district heating was significantly expanded in Denmark in the 1960s, the price difference between the light gas oil used in individual oil-fired boilers and the heavy fuel oil used in large boilers drove the development. The reduction in OPEX by establishing district heating could fi- nance CAPEX in the pipeline network and the central boiler, so TOTEX for the district heating solution was lower than TOTEX for the individual solution. The development of district heating in the 1960s in Denmark was thus market-driven – today, such growth can also be based on a political demand.

Utilization of surplus heat Now, buildings are supplied with district heating based on the next-best solution - coal, oil, or natural gas – with better fuel utilization than the previous individual solution. This has creat- ed the opportunity to utilize local surplus heat resources in the district heating system. An option that was not present when individual buildings were solely responsible for heating. A significant portion of the surplus heat can now be utilized, perhaps 4,000 hours per year. The remaining heat demand still needs to be covered by coal, oil, or natural gas-fired boilers. This reduces CO 2 emissions in two steps – first, from the indi- vidual scenario to the district heating scenario based on fossil fuels, and further through the utilization of surplus heat, which reduces the use of fossil fuels. The fossil-based boilers now shift from units that cover the base load of heat demand to units that cover heat demand in peak load situations and when there is a need to activate re- serve capacity due to interruptions in heat supply from surplus heat providers.

Therefore, it is now relevant to investigate the possibility of es- tablishing new production capacity to reduce heat production from fossil-based boilers. This could involve production units based on sustainable biomass or heat pumps, solar, electric boilers, surplus heat from CCS/U (Carbon Capture Storage/Uti- lization), hydrogen production, or other local options.

Again, we need to look at TOTEX, CAPEX, and OPEX for such production capacity before deciding to build something new.

If it proves economically attractive to establish new production capacity, it will likely be integrated into the "hierarchy," with heat from surplus heat producers having priority, the new pro- duction unit having second priority, and finally, the fossil-fired boilers having third priority. The fossil-based boilers continue to cover heat demand when heat deliveries from surplus heat providers and the new pro- duction unit are insufficient to meet heat demand. In the long term, they will only serve as peak and reserve loads.

The overall district heating system benefits significantly from the flexibility of these fossil-based boilers.

the next few years, large electric boilers will replace some of the larger oil-fired boilers.

Copenhagen walked the talk! Is the above brief description of the possible development of a district heating system just theory? No – if we briefly look at the district heating system in the western part of Greater Copen- hagen, the historical development here has been as follows. In the 1960s and 1970s, 19 local, independent district heating companies comprised the district heating system. The district heating supply was based on fuel oil or coal-fired boilers and small local waste incineration plants. In the late 1980s, the many district heating companies were connected to a central district heating transmission network (VEKS –, which supplied surplus heat from large central combined heat and power plants (coal-fired) and large waste incineration plants to the local distribution networks.

Conclusion If there had not been an expansion of district heating in the western part of Greater Copenhagen based on coal and oil- fired boilers 50-60 years ago, the foundation would not have been laid for a well-functioning, energy-efficient district heat- ing system in the western part of Greater Copenhagen in 2025, which will be based on 100% CO2-neutral heat production. The next step is to reduce biomass consumption and utilize more surplus heat from future sources – such as CCS/U – more about this can be read in this article describing Copenhagen's heat plan up to 2050.

At the same time, the small local waste incineration plants were closed, and the local coal-fired boilers were shut down. The central boilers in the local district heating companies were retained – over time, fuel oil was phased out and replaced with light gas oil. Some boilers were equipped with dual-fuel burn- ers so that they could use both gas oil and natural gas. Today, only 2-3% of the district heating demand in the western part of Greater Copenhagen is covered by produc- tion from oil and natural gas-fired boilers, while the remain- ing 97-98% is covered by surplus heat from combined heat and power (CHP) plants, which now use sustainable biomass, surplus heat from waste energy plants, and surplus heat from industry. The CHP plants were converted from fossil fuels to sustainable biomass between 2008-2020. Today, the originally oil-fired boilers still have a significant func- tion in the overall district heating system. Their role today is not to cover the entire heat demand but solely to serve as peak and reserve load when it is very cold – or when the large, CHP plants or waste-to-energy plants cannot meet the heat demand. Over

The Copenhagen system demonstrates the stepping stones used back then. Now we need to move ahead stepping on similar stones without building new fossil-based production capacity. So, starting the green transition by connecting fos- sil-based customers to a fossil-based district heating system can be the first step on the "green journey." Let’s not sit around waiting for all conditions to be perfect; there are several step- ping stones, and we gather knowledge by every step we take.

For further information please contact: Lars Gullev,


Architecture is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when planning a new district heating plant. But architecture can support all the parameters of a successful project. How, you may ask? Thomas Enevold from the Danish architectural company Arkikon explains how. Thomas has worked with functional architecture for over 30 years and shares a lifetime of tangible advice and some illustrative examples.

By Thomas Enevold, Partner & CEO, Arkikon

The often-overlooked aspect of the economy No matter how many aspects you consider regarding a new district heating plant, one factor always naturally receives the greatest attention: the economy—the investment cost on the one hand and the operating cost on the other. But actually, there is an overlooked aspect in most economic cal- culations. The most expensive - and at the same time the most detrimental to climate and environment - are fast, short-sight- ed, or one-sided decisions. In planning a new district heating plant, there is too often a very narrow focus on the short-term technical requirements, which often results in a more expen- sive plant - and at the same time, adds more burden on the climate and the environment than is strictly necessary. This article aims to unfold how functional architecture can en- sure a sounder platform for decisions when planning your up- coming construction project.

Renewed pride in energy supplies The utility sector has had a diverse existence over the past 100 years, which is clearly reflected in both the architecture of the utility facilities and their location. Simply put, architec- ture tends to reflect our self-perception: Are we the proud center of the local community - or are we a somewhat dull technical necessity living a quiet life outside the public spot- light? Originally, Denmark's utility companies were mainly centrally located in the cities and characterized by monumental archi- tecture. But through the 20th century, most utilities moved to industrial areas or fields on the outskirts of the cities, hidden behind trees and or in anonymous architecture. Now, the times are changing again. High energy prices and a strong emphasis on the green transition lead to a growing awareness of the public energy and supply structure - and its

Seven questions to ask when you start a project: 1. Futureproofing and the master plan: What are the current requirements - and what will happen in the next ten years? For example, Is the location right, and is it possible to expand or rebuild? 2. Technology: What technical systems will the building contain? How do you ensure the best flow? 3. Working and access conditions: How do you create optimal working space and safe access conditions for employees and visitors? 4. Sustainability: What requirements do you have - for example, should it be possible to dismantle or repurpose the building entirely or partly? 5. Relations: What facilities are required concerning visitors? How can the project enable your local anchoring and support? 6. Consultancy: What type of advice do you need - client advisors, energy advisors, architectural advisors, or others? 7. Organization: What is the right project team - what skills are needed?

Thyborøn Fjernvarme The existing heating plant was placed like a ship in the flat, surging landscape with water on both sides. When there was a need for increased production capacity, the new building maintained the reference to the landscape qualities and the ship's aesthetics - and created a consistent and coherent whole.

vital importance. Everyone's attention is once again on the utilities: Can you deliver the product that we, as a society, pol- iticians, and local customers, expect? Are you open to discus- sions about the future energy supply? And what role do you want to play in the local community you are part of? Integrated consulting can pursue all goals. The new agenda provides district heating utilities with a com- pletely new approach to new projects. Stricter requirements for heat production, sustainability, working conditions, and openness do not only affect the technical constraints and the technical disciplines. When you, as a developer, want to future- proof a new facility on all parameters, it challenges the entire master plan. Therefore, it is necessary to gather several dedi- cated parties around the table: Engineers, architects - and, not least, a client with a 360 degrees approach who likes to chal- lenge their advisers.

Aabybro Fjernvarme The district heating plant is located in the flat landscape on the city's outskirts next to the access road from Aalborg. As a testimony to the flat terrain, the building adds a new visual landscape with a distinctive and sculptural design that catches the eye without appearing heavy.

Architecture as a tool in functional design The primary function of a district heating plant is to supply the citizens with heat. It is the citizens who are paying; therefore, it is natural to think of a district heating plant as a 'democrat- ic act' in physical form. Citizens must be able to identify with what they experience visually – not only in relation to keeping warm but also concerning the facility's appearance, location, and interaction with the surroundings. This is where architectural design begins, and architecture must be understood broadly in that context. For example, the architecture relates to: Where can or should the building be placed? In addition to accommodating the heating production and any future plans, the location must also consider everything from effi- cient infrastructure to sensitive neighbors. Apparent condi- tions such as noise, heavy traffic, building scale, shades from building volumes, etc., must be analyzed to ensure the pro- ject considers all affected parties. How can architecture help to create the right operational conditions and flow in the building? The architect considers both current needs and possible future scenarios to ensure the final project gives a high-quality experience and is fu- tureproofed.

with many pieces – extending from the local context to users, machinery, finances, schedules, authorities, etc.

What role should the new district heating plant play visually? The context - the plant's immediate surroundings - plays an essential role in the architectural potential. Some of the typical locations for a heating plant are:

A new or existing business area

A welcoming feature when arriving in the city

A part of the city - on a previously occupied building site

A detached building on an open field.

It is crucial to be aware of the growth potential for the specific area. A heating plant has a scale that obligates - the building can either set the direction and create a domino effect for the area or help highlight an existing environment that the com- munity wants to preserve. As a developer, you are responsible for finding the right balance between building on a big scale, robust, innovative, futureproof, and appealing - and simulta- neously avoiding visual noise. The building must be integrated despite its size.

Consequently, architecture is not just a matter of creating a nice or practical building. Functional architecture is a puzzle

If you want to ensure that the architecture relates and gives back to its surroundings, the tools naturally depend on the con-

Affald Varme Aarhus The energy plant on Aarhus Ø confirms that technical buildings can add architectural value to the city without dominating its surroundings.

"We wanted to create a living house where the static solution is exhibited to the public together with the process." - Lasse Sørensen, Affald Varme Aarhus

Architecture contributes to:

Futureproofing the investment

Creating practical workflows and logical fuel flow

Creating safe access for employees and visitors

Communicating the plant's contribution to the green transition

text in which the plant is placed. If the building is placed as a welcoming feature to the city or can be seen from is visible from major arteries, you can guide the observer's attention into the heat production with a large-scale transparent architecture. In an urban context, you can involve people passing the plant by placing views of the interior strategically in the body of the building. The building can be integrated among the city's ex- isting facades – but in its form show that there is something to explore or demonstrate a company wanting to be part of the community. Challenge the architecture! As a developer, you have many stakeholders to respect and interact with during the process. Typically, it is the company board that sets the direction and the priorities when needed, but it is an advantage to consider everyone's perspectives from the beginning: The employees The architecture must provide the best possible working en- vironment. It must be practical but also offer recurrent joy in their daily life. An example could be a deliberate ray of daylight in a particular area or a unique feature that emerged between the developer and the architect in the development process. The consumers The architecture must provide a good experience and ensure safety for citizens who use the heat.

Securing local anchoring and support

Strengthening employer branding and recruitment

Neighbors and local communities The architecture must ensure a good experience of the heat- ing plant and the surroundings in the future. If it becomes necessary to expand, future scenarios have been planned to appeal to the neighbors and co-exist with the current building.

Analysis chart By including the architecture as an important parameter, the new plant will stand as an image and a strong icon with a green profile, which shows off its production in recyclable features.

The project process The best results are achieved when the dialogue starts before the master plan is outlined. The diagram illustrates in eight steps the process you go through when a heating plant is established.

E.indd 1

14.08.2023 14.32

Community The architecture must ensure the possibility for reuse or expan- sion for future needs or demands rather than demolition. This benefits both the economy and the climate. Finally, the architecture must support the district heating plant's overall narrative - who are we and how we would like to be seen. Involve the architect at an early stage Since the functional architecture of a heat production plant is so much more than just a practical building, there is much to be gained by involving an architect with expertise in com- plex structures and district heating plants early in the process. The best results are achieved if the dialogue starts before you outline your master plan, enabling you to establish close coop- eration between the architect, engineer, and client. Once you have chosen your location, you can also benefit from involving

neighbors and the local community. If the locals are involved early on, they take ownership and support the project. This be- comes valuable when the construction and later operations get underway. From a larger perspective, establishing an early collaboration between the client, authorities, and consultants allows benefi- cial approaches concerning the municipality's future planning. In the early dialogue, you can get all ideas on the table before establishing the framework, which will be expensive to change at a later stage. For example, you can get a perspective on loca- tion, how you best use the available space, whether the terrain can contribute to practical and aesthetic solutions, the rela- tionship with the neighbors, and the flow in, out, and around the building - all seen in relation to the economy, which is usu- ally the primary basis for a decision.

Copenhagen municipality The municipality explored the possibilities of placing heat pumps, geothermal energy, and heat storage in urban environments. The task was to prepare six hypothetical proposals for a way to integrate the facilities in the urban environment. This is a suggestion to incorporate a seawater heat pump. The high white facade creates associations with the many limestone cliffs found in the Danish countryside.

Lemvig Varmeværk The new heating plant is positioned in relation to the existing landscape, and the layout utilizes the difference in terrain. The individual functions are extended to independent buildings that are turned and rotated in relation to each other.

"Our architects don't just design a building that looks nice. They consider and include everything the building has to accommodate into a whole." - Svend Erik Bjerg, Lemvig Varmeværk

The point is that the early involvement of the architect provides a broad decision foundation, and it can contribute positively to the economy - both in the short and long term.

Concept diagram In the initial phases, the concept is outlined based on the client's needs and wishes. The concept diagram shows how the functions are outlined in volumes and further processed into shapes based on their operations, which are subsequently placed according to the context and the desired flow.

For further information please contact: Thomas Enevold,

In France, district heating systems are still struggling to develop and reach ambitious growth objectives. Why is there such a gap between ambitions and realities despite many efforts being put into developing district heating systems? Maybe due to the non-align- ment between national policymakers and local project developers. SUSTAINABLE DISTRICT HEATING: A LOCAL VS. (INTER)NATIONAL DILEMMA?

By Johanna Ayrault, PhD in Management Science, MSc in Executive Engineering

What, why, and for whom? The article points out recommendations to foster the devel- opment of district heating systems in countries struggling to reach their growth ambitions. The article mainly targets pol- icymakers and other national organizations supporting the development of district heating. It presents the gap between the policy vision of district heating and project development, offering ideas on how to close it. If international organizations recognize that district heating (DH) systems are a great lever for the energy transition, their development still does not meet expectations. On the one hand, national and international public policies claim to sup- port the development of more sustainable DH systems. On the other hand, the coverage of sustainable DH remains low. Why is there such a gap between the strategy and its opera- tionalization? One answer (among many others) I want to put forward is the non-alignment of temporalities and values be- tween policymakers and operational project managers. I will take the example of France, where DH only represents about 5% of the residential heat demand despite being a building block of the national ecological transition strategy. This work was conducted during a CIFRE Ph.D. in France from 2019 to 2022. 1. National policymakers, a technocratic approach to district heating As France has growth objectives for DH (see Box 1), several public policies, instruments, and institutions should support its development. One of the main levers for this development is the ADEME – the national expertise center for the ecological transition – and, more precisely, the Heat Funds. Heat Funds are subsidies given to public authorities developing “sustaina- ble district heating” to ensure its competitiveness compared to

Box 1: French growth objectives on district heating The 2015 law on the energy transition for green devel- opment sets up the objective of multiplying by five the amount of renewable heat and cold delivered by DH and cooling systems between 2012 and 2030. This ob- jective was reasserted in the national energy roadmap 2020 and should be based on biomass (double used between 2019 and 2023), geothermal energy (fourfold increase), and waste heat. This mix would be comple- mented by biogas and thermal solar panels.

natural gas. Heat Funds are recognized as a great lever for the development of DH, yet France struggles to reach its objectives.

1.1 An engineering approach to district heating When screening the indicators evaluating the sustainability of DH, it is striking how technical they are. Sustainability means 50% or more of renewable and recovered heat. You may won- der which production means fall into this category? There is a comprehensive list of what is considered renewable heat. And here is where the first issue arises: this list was issued in 2009 and has been regularly updated. At every update, new spec- ifications on what is considered a « sustainable heat source » were added (Figure 1). However, this list is never comprehensive, always one step be- hind the market state, and not entirely aligned with local in- terests. 1.2 The case of recovered heat There are no specifications on what can be considered “recov- ered” heat. Due to this lack of clarity, it is hard for project devel- opers to engage in the development of such DH systems: they have few supporting tools or institutions to help them, and they have no insurance that the system they set up will be con-

“sustainable.” It is always possible for innovative pro- jects to get subsidies, but it requires more commit- ment and awareness from the project developers. 1.4 Biomass, a controversial sustainable production means Finally, when it comes to the alignment with local in- terests, the case of biomass is interesting. The specifi- cations on what is considered sustainable biomass are constantly evolving, but – despite years of discussions on the subject – there is no mandatory wood certifica- tion (concerning forest management or the local ori- gin of the wood). When talking to local authorities or representatives, their view on biomass sustainability is very much linked to the local origin of biomass and bi-

sidered as “sustainable” and benefit from subsidies.

“There was a challenge to prove that mine gas was indeed waste heat for the ADEME national office or the ministries, even if it is stated by law that it is indeed waste heat” (regional coordina- tor of the Heat Funds, own translation) 1.3 Keeping up with the innovations Moreover, it takes time for new technology to be add- ed to the list; in the meantime, it benefits from very little development. Low-temperature DH and cooling systems were only added in 2019 to the list, mean- ing that before that year, they could not benefit from the Heat Funds subsidies as they were not considered

2009 Renewable & Recovered heat: biomass, thermal solar panels, geother- mal, biogas

2013 Sustainable certification criteria for the forestry biomass under discus- sion Criteria on economic efficiency

2018 Mandatory concertation with users for district heating Integration of district cooling

2021 Allowed combination of the Heat Fund and the White Certificates

District heating (DH) Technical criteria & reporting



2019 Integration of low-tem- perature district heating and cooling

Tighter dust emission criteria for biomass More specifications on reporting Mandatory roadmap for DH Biogas criteria being drafted

No criteria on sustain- able certification of forestry biomass

Figure 1. Evolution of the Heat Funds 2009-2022 This figure shows the main changes in the Heat Funds (French subsidies for sustainable heat production) specifications throughout the years. Each year, new production means are added to the list, and new criteria are set up to assess the sustainability of the production means.

National policymakers, a technocratic approach to district heating

Sustainable district heating, a locally anchored project

Main focus

Technical focus (visible through the indicators for subsidies)

Focus on the local impact (financial, societal, environmental, social)

Perimeter of thinking

Dominant silo thinking – political timeframe

Attempts at long-term ecosystem thinking

Table 1. Two worlds in tension. This table summarizes the main differences between the national policymakers’ approach to district heating and the local one. The national one has a technical and political base, whereas the local one strives to integrate district heating into a holistic transition.

if formalized in local plans, these objectives struggle to get quantified and gain recognition outside the municipality pe- rimeter.

ased by the fear of deforestation. Thus, even in forestry regions, the potential of wood energy is not reached, hampering the reaching of the national objectives.

2. Local project developers, a pragmatic approach to district heating systems

3. The intricate linking between national and local visions

In opposition to the engineering approach of DH bore by the policymakers, local actors have developed a pragmatic ap- proach to these systems as key infrastructures to structure a local transition. When I use the term “project developers,” I re- fer here to local authorities responsible for the development of DH, not to the private companies operating the systems. 2.1 District heating as a lever for local action, an ecosystemic approach More and more metropolis and municipalities are engaging in a local transition. The main driver of this transition is to ensure citizens a better, cleaner future. To do so, they can use various tools: energy infrastructures, local policies, etc. DH is starting to be viewed as a significant lever for local action because of its flexibility and overreaching impact. When discussing the prior- ities of local project developers around DH, I was struck by the gap between their vision and the national one. If they value the technical optimization of the system, it is only a base for a more ecosystemic impact. 2.2 A real utopia around district heating For local project developers, DH should participate in the at- tractivity of the city, the decarbonization of its energy, and the improvement of the air. It should also consider water man- agement, in collaboration with other utilities, and the reuse of waste heat. It should create synergies with already settled industries and with social housing. It should help structure and secure new employment sectors and have a positive so- cietal impact on the municipality. Overall, it should become a structuring actor of urban development, more than an in- visible energy provider. Local public authorities want to in- vestigate innovative solutions and partnerships to make this vision real. However, they do not necessarily feel supported to build this expertise by existing national public policies. Even

Here is a recapitulative table to clearly show the tensions be- tween the policymakers’ vision and the local one (Table 1).

This deformed mirror image between these two visions is em- bodied through the difficulties of translating national planning at local levels. “In 2014, the Cerema 1 tried to sum up the ambitions of every region (through the figures stated in their regional planning for climate, air, and energy), and it was not even a tenth of the national objectives. […] There is no real link between each level.” (employee of a Cerema regional office, own translation) This difficulty is intensified by the lack of clear interlocutor fo- cusing solely on DH development at every administrative level (municipalities, regions, nation).

4. What now?

Box 2: Other factors impeding the growth. Of course, this gap between the visions of national policy- makers and the one of local project developers does not explain the difficult development of DH systems. Among other factors, the French cultural and historical context, favoring the emergence of national electrical and natu- ral gas networks throughout the country, makes invest- ing in new network development difficult. The choice of nuclear energy supported by public policies also encour- ages the emergence of all-electric housings. Above these national considerations, the EU regulations on the energy market or its competitiveness law can sometimes prevent cross-sector planning and operations.

1 The Cerema is a public organization under the supervision of different ministries. They work on risks, environment, mobility, and planning, with a focus on experience sharing. They produce e.g., « best practice » documents and short explanations on regulations.

Is this gap inevitable? Moving away from the current system will take time and effort, as it is strongly embedded in insti- tutions and regulations (see Box 2). However, I claim that two significantly linked steps could be taken. 4.1 Create representatives for district heating. One issue making the dialogue difficult is that DH is not well-represented. Its status remains unclear compared to the “big brothers” like electricity or natural gas. Acknowledging the existence of DH as a technical and political object per se could help bring back coherence both at the energy sector and cross-sector levels. It will also create the roots for facilitating interaction between project developers and policymakers. 4.2 Constructing expertise to mediate between the two worlds. To help operationalize the energy roadmaps, there is a lack of tools facilitating the project developments and adapting to the new context of sustainability. Mediation tools translating regulations into actionable actions and instruments would also be required. They go hand in hand with the construction of expertise: the French government wants to increase the per- centage of geothermal energy and waste heat into DH. But local project developers do not necessarily know the geother-

mal potential, the human resources to develop contracts with industrials, etc.

The expertise around sustainable DH is still under construc- tion, and the actors do not yet benefit from standardized tools supporting the development of innovative systems. I call for more efforts on standardized contracts adapted to innovative settings, developing indicators and reporting systems consid- ering local attractivity and local impact, formalized methods for cocreating DH with local actors, knowledge development within the local authorities on shallow geothermal energy, etc.

For further information please contact:

Johanna Ayrault, PhD

After completing a Ph.D. in 2022 on collaborative governance for sustainable DH, I have continued investigating this fascinating object. I now work as a researcher for the CGS (Mines Paris-PSL) and the Institute for Urban Management and Governance (WU Wien). I would like to understand better how to support collaborative expertise building to help the development of sustainable DH and cooling systems. What makes this subject exciting to you? I discovered DH when starting my Ph.D. in 2019, and I really fell for it. People working in the sector are passionate, and it is wonderful to learn from them. I find it fascinating as it has a lot of potential for the energy transition, not only on a tech- nical or environmental level but also on a societal one. DH calls for collaboration, synergies, and a democratic approach to the ecological transition. It is also a challenging subject because it is not that much represented or acknowledged. But that makes it exciting because a lot is still to be built and the potential is big! What will your findings do for DH? I hope that my research will help build this expertise I’m talking about in this article: not only a technical one but an ecosystemic one. The ideal would be to develop sustainable DH methods based on different instruments (co-creation workshops, formalized partnerships, governance, etc.). However, I want to start by bringing more awareness to DH and participating in creating this “culture of district heating” in Europe. I hope my findings will push for more representative of DH and national experts of DH, which is a prerequisite for building collaborative expertise.


Over the past decade, the risk of cyber-attacks has moved high on the agenda in most enterprises and organisations. Traditional risks from changing markets, shifting demographics, and new legislation generally happen slowly, so responsible management has the time and opportunity to react and manage the risk. However, cyber-attacks may happen over- night and target systems in unpredictable ways, potentially threatening the organisation’s very existence.

By Christian Damsgaard Jensen, Applied Mathematics & Computer Science, DTU (Technical University of Denmark)

Organized cyber-criminals have previously focused on private companies, such as the attack on Sony Pictures in 2014 or the NotPetya attack on Maersk in 2017. Still, they are now increas- ingly targeting public institutions and organisations, such as the ransomware in Baltimore in 2019 or the Conti group’s attack on HSE (Irish Health Services) in 2021. Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, we have started to see attacks on critical infrastructure, such as the 2016 Christmas Ukraine power outage (the war in Ukraine began with the annexation of Crimea in 2014) and the Colonial Pipeline attack in 2021; critical infrastructure has previ- ously been considered off-limits for cyber-criminals. District heating (DH) services both private and public custom- ers. Examples include homes, from individual homes to large housing estates, private companies and production facilities, and public buildings, such as hospitals and prisons. DH must, therefore, be considered critical infrastructure, where the board, directors, and all the employees share a common re- sponsibility to ensure continuity of service to all their custom- ers. From a cybersecurity perspective, this means that DH will be subject to existing and emerging legislation that governs the online world, both EU regulation, such as the Cybersecurity Act, NIS 2, the Cyber Resilience Act, and, of course, GDPR, but also national regulation from the country where the district heating utility operates.


As indicated above, we have recently come to realize that crit- ical infrastructure is not simply a label to put on systems, but the infrastructure is critical to both individuals and society. If a DH company fails because of a ransomware attack, thousands of individual households may be without heat in the middle of the winter, but if the company’s customers include a hos- pital or a prison, people who cannot or should not be moved may be without heat. Moreover, commercial customers, such as factories, who require high temperatures for their processes, will be unable to operate, and if district cooling is part of the services provided by the utility, cold storage facilities, and data centers may fail to deliver their services, which will have seri- ous knock-on effects for food security and cloud computing services. There is, therefore, an increasing focus from regulators and the public concerning the cybersecurity of critical infrastruc- ture. The EU recently adopted the NIS 2 directive, which sets the baseline for cybersecurity risk management measures and reporting obligations across all sectors covered, includ- ing most critical infrastructure. NIS 2 is not an EU regulation, unlike GDPR, but it is a directive defining measures that each

member state must implement in national legislation before 17 October 2024. The focus is on risk management, so national legislation and the organisations it regulates must follow a risk- based approach to cybersecurity, which aligns with current standards and best practices in the area. Taking a risk-based approach means that small organisations with few custom- ers will not be covered by the NIS 2 regulation unless service failure may have large consequences for at least one of their customers. It is, therefore, important for all DH companies to perform a risk analysis, which must include an impact analysis of service failure to all their customers. The directive also defines a scheme of fines for non-compli- ance, like the heavy fines in the GDPR, and it explicitly iden- tifies the board’s responsibility to ensure that the board has sufficient cybersecurity expertise to implement a robust risk management framework for the organisation. Moreover, the board is responsible for ensuring that top management has the necessary cybersecurity expertise to implement the cyber- security strategies and frameworks defined by the board and to oversee the development of required cybersecurity exper- tise throughout the organisation. If the board fails to fulfil this responsibility, individual board members may be held person- ally liable for the consequences of a cyber-attack.

Security Goals

To understand and discuss the security of systems, it is impor- tant to identify the security goals the system is designed to meet. Standard security properties include Confidentiality, In- tegrity, and Availability, often known as the CIA Triad. These properties often relate to data stored on or exchanged be- tween computers, but focusing exclusively on these properties fails to address security issues in the context of the organisa- tion, e.g., supporting the long-term strategic goals or the day- to-day business of the operation. An organisation operating a DH infrastructure must achieve at least three goals: correctly and reliably collecting data nec- essary to bill their customers, protecting this customer data from unauthorized access, and monitoring and regulating their network according to a standard control loop. What are the respective security properties required to achieve each of these goals? We look at each of these goals and show how the relative im- portance of the three security properties changes for the three high-level security goals.

1. The collection of billing information is important to all utility companies. This data must be correct, complete, and con- sistent if a utility company is to issue accurate bills and re- tain its customers’ confidence. Moreover, if a utility compa- ny is unable to demonstrate that correct billing information is collected from its metering infrastructure, the regulator may ultimately revoke the organisation’s license to operate. Therefore, the priority of the three security properties must be Integrity, Availability, and Confidentiality (IAC) in order of decreasing importance. 2. In addition to collecting the metering information from all subscribers, the utility company must maintain customer information about each subscriber. This includes informa- tion about the name and address of the subscriber, pay- ment methods, and history, e.g., if the customer is in arrears, so this is personal data regulated by GDPR. Therefore, the priority of the three security properties must be Confiden- tiality, Integrity, and Availability (CIA). Interestingly, billing information becomes customer data once received from the meter and associated with the individual customer, so the priority of security properties of meter data changes from when sent over the network to when it is received and stored on the DH organisations system. This is primarily im- portant for the choice of security measures implemented to protect the data. 3. Finally, the utility must be able to control the production and distribution of heating throughout the network to meet its customers’ actual demand. Actively controlling the infrastructures requires controlling pumps and chang- ing valve settings, which again requires reliable distribution of control signals throughout the district heating network. These control signals must arrive quickly and reliably, so the priority of the three security properties is Availability, Integ- rity, and Confidentiality (AIC).

Security Mechanisms

We have seen that the priority of the three security properties differs for each of the main security goals. In the following, we look more closely at the security challenges and mechanisms normally used to address these challenges. Secure Collection of Billing Information The secure collection of billing information relates to the cor- rectness of the measurements performed by the heating me- ter and the security of the communication between the meter installed at the subscriber address and the backend systems installed at the district heating organisation. Ensuring the integrity of the meter data requires the correct production, configuration, and operation; this includes protec- tion against tampering by customers who may wish to reduce their bills. Most of these goals can be achieved by having cer- tified professionals install the meter and putting a seal on the meter to allow detection of customer tampering. Protecting the integrity between the meters and the DH organisation’s backend systems requires the ability to authenticate the meter to the backend system and detect data modification in transit; both requirements are typically addressed using cryptography.

The availability of metering data means that the meter should function correctly and that there is reliable communication between the meter and the backend system. Meters are usual- ly reliable if not tampered with (see integrity above). Still, they may be attacked by hackers if the meter is accessible from the Internet, so meters are often protected by a firewall or commu- nication using a dedicated communication channel, such as a GSM, 4G, or 5G modem. Moreover, communication may fail if the normal connection between the meter and the DH organi- sation fails; this is particularly relevant for Internet communica- tion that may be subjected to Denial of Service attacks, where the backend system is overwhelmed by network traffic from unrelated sources. Availability is primarily addressed by storing data temporarily on the meter so it can be retransmitted if the server did not receive it. This addresses most transient failures in the communication infrastructure. If high availability is re- quired, separate communication channels may be employed; this is known as communication redundancy. Confidentiality of meter data primarily relates to the commu- nication between the meter and the backend system and is normally addressed by standard cryptographic means. Protection of Customer Data The protection of customer data is a standard data protection problem, which the CIA triad was developed to describe. Confidentiality is ensured through access control, where only users who have been authorized to access data will be allowed to do so. This raises an interesting privacy issue when utilities wish to share data for different purposes, such as allowing the development of apps to calculate average temperatures and DH usage and compare this to the average in the neigh- bourhood. Due to GDPR, such sharing is difficult without suffi- cient anonymization, which is difficult to achieve. Finally, data should be encrypted at rest, particularly if stored in the cloud. Integrity of customer data is usually achieved through the same access control mechanism as confidentiality. Encrypted data at rest can be integrity-protected by the same integrity mechanisms used to transmit meter data mentioned above. Availability of customer data is mainly achieved by maintain- ing several copies on separate local storage servers or copying data to the cloud. Regardless of the solution, it is important to encrypt customer data before they are written to the local disk or cloud storage solution. Controlling the District Heating Network Controlling the DH network requires correct, complete, con- sistent, and timely input from the sensors installed. The first three properties can be achieved by the same mechanisms as the collection of billing information. However, the timely trans- fer of operational parameters from the sensors is necessary for the correct generation and distribution of heat in the network; this is why availability should be prioritized over integrity and confidentiality. Availability of the communication channels en- sures timely communication of measurements from the sen- sors installed in the network to the backend system and con- trol commands from the backend system to the actuators that control the physical distribution of heating in the network. The timeliness requirement means that storing commands local-

ly and retransmitting them again later, when communication channels have been re-established, is unacceptable, so subsys- tems must either be designed to enter autonomous operation if control signals are lost, or separate (fully redundant) commu- nication channels must be built into the system. Integrity and confidentiality of the control signals, parameter settings, and software updates exchanged between sensors, actuators, and the backend system can be protected by the same cryptographic means used to protect the integrity and confidentiality of billing information mentioned above.

Implementing Security in District Heating Systems

DH is a socio-technical system involving people and technolo- gy, so cybersecurity solutions must address organisational and technological concerns. Organisational Considerations Organisations must consider all risks that arise from their use of IT, regardless of whether this is from sensors and actuators embedded in artefacts of everyday life, such as thermostats, pumps, meters, or other remote-controlled infrastructure, or it is from administrative systems used for forecasting, billing, or administration. As mentioned above, implementing NIS 2 means that boards of critical infrastructure companies, such as DH utilities, must have sufficient cybersecurity qualifications to define risk management strategies and oversee the imple- mentation of policies and controls to address cybersecurity issues. In addition to security education and training efforts, responsible organisations will run general security awareness programs to reduce the risk of employees becoming victims of social engineering, where an attacker tricks the employee to disclose sensitive information or provide access to protected resources or computer systems. The goal must always be to increase the organisation’s ro- bustness against cyber-attacks through developing security incident and disaster recovery plans (so-called playbooks) and running periodic exercises to ensure that all aspects of the plans are still relevant and feasible and that everybody in the organisation knows their role. Developing a good playbook requires a thorough risk analysis, which should also include a threat model. Risk analysis focuses on the cause and effect of unwanted events in the system (aka. security incidents), whereas threat analysis focuses on a threat agent’s motives, means, and opportunities; typically, an external hacker, but in- sider threats are also considered. Risk analysis Risk analysis is a mature area that has developed over centu- ries in public safety and the insurance industry. In most cases, the risk analyst will focus on security incidents and estimate their likelihood and consequential costs. Some potential secu- rity incidents may be well known and understood; this helps estimate the likelihood and consequence, but cybersecurity transcends natural hazards and must deal with an intelligent and motivated adversary. This means that systems must be an- alysed regularly with an eye to what can possibly go wrong, in addition to examining things that have gone wrong in the past or gone wrong in other systems. Standard risk management

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