The considered heat sources are waste incineration plants (in green), wastewater treatment plants (in blue), and low-tem- perature and high-temperature effluents from industries (in yellow and red, respectively). The size of the points indicates the amount of recoverable heat, while the amount of trans- ported heat along the arrows is specified by their colour. You may notice that not only sources and heat demand clus- ters are connected. There are paths linking sources with sourc- es and clusters with clusters. Indeed, if the available heat from a source is more significant than the demand in its vicinity, it can be distributed to multiple clusters; if the heat entering a cluster exceeds its heat demand, this residual heat can be con- veyed to one or more adjacent clusters; if a cluster’s demand

cannot be met by a single source, multiple sources can be used.

But together with policymakers, it is helpful that also engineers, system operators, managers, and even users (non-expert people) are made aware of this technology’s potential. It is important that everyone knows that the ad- vantages of this technology are many and assured, even though a great investment cost is generally required for the construction of the distribution network. Moreover, it is important to stress that everyone can take advantage of the environmental, social, and economic benefits that arise from DH if the system is properly built and properly managed, operated, and used. That is why results are made available online and open for consultancy. Everyone, even non-experts, can access them and get an insight into a specific area’s potential in terms of DH systems’ ability to provide thermal energy. Everyone can “discover hot water”! The developed methodology can be improved since some simplification was made, but the results are reliable and en- couraging. They can be extrapolated from the map and used as a starting point for further analysis of specific districts in Italy or other countries. Future efforts will go towards an increased temporal resolu- tion, considering demand and load profiles and heat storages to balance them, and towards sector coupling, thus by consid- ering the interaction of the heating sector with the electrical and transport sectors.


How to make a plan? The developed methodology enables the assessment of DH potential on a large-scale level by considering the magnitude, location, and costs of all the elements con- stituting the energy system. The local aspects that are essential when dealing with DH are therefore contem- plated. The outcome of the optimization problem is very promis- ing and can provide a reliable starting point for any deci- sion-making authority, such as policymakers, cities’ may- ors, and DH operators. District heating is indeed an energy infrastructure in which local aspects are fundamental for a proper potential assessment and planning. As proved by the great development DH experienced in Denmark since the intervention of the Government in the late 70s, ade- quate regulation at the national level is required to foster the market uptake of this technology.

Giulia Spirito

What makes this subject exciting to you? I have focused on DH&C since my degree in 2020. I was motivated and still am because DH’s role in decarbonization appears increasingly relevant, with countless rising opportunities. I am devoting myself to learning more about them, contributing to this development, and disseminating the acquired experience. This article proves it. What will your findings do for DH? The intention is to foster DH diffusion by highlighting its benefits. This is done by developing a replicable methodology for assessing DH potential based on RES and excess heat. Fundamentally, each of the involved players of a DH system has a clear vision of the potential advantages of this technology and how they can be maximized while minimizing costs. The results obtained in Italy can be the stepping-stones for many other applications and more detailed research. Giulia is a Ph.D. student at Politecnico di Milano. Her research focuses on DH at local and national scales, intending to merge these two scales of analysis. She manages tools to design and optimize DH networks holistically based on geo-ref- erenced data. She has been involved in several national and EU-funded projects and is participating in the activities of the IEA. She is a co-author of 6 indexed scientific publications.

For further information please contact: Giulia Spirito,

12 HOTCOOL no.8 2022

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