Why we need to focus on Carbon-Neutral District Heating, and now!

75% of heating and cooling in Europe still depends on fossil fuels, and that is one of the main obstacles on the road in achieving the EU’s climate and energy goals. Heating and cooling is responsible for 40% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions globally and arguably more for colder countries in Europe. For only 19% of the heating and cooling energy is generated from renewable sources.

Heating from renewable energy sources is set to expand to 22% by 2024, but it is yet to be seen if it can meet the global climate change targets.

Carbon Neutral Sources of Heating

Bioenergy remains the largest renewable heat source, with a lead growth of 12% by 2024 and accounts for contributing two-thirds of the heating requirement for the industrial sector.

The solar thermal market has recorded growth, albeit slower because of shifting market dynamics in China. Despite the trend, the solar thermal heat consumption is bound to increase by almost 50% over 2019-24 and 90% will be in buildings owing to lower costs.

Europe has been leading the global market for geothermal District Heating and Cooling, recording a steady increase in the deployment of geothermal DHC systems. Europe has commissioned an additional 11 new systems during 2019 that would add 130 MWth of additional capacity.

Cities embracing Carbon Neutral Heating

Europe has an established network of heat distribution pipes of a total trench length of about 200,000 km. Denmark alone meets 64% of its heating requirements with the help of their district heating network that uses a mix of renewables (biomass, solar), fossil fuels (coal, natural gas), and waste.

Espoo city in Finland shows us how corporate collaboration can help achieve carbon neutrality. The city’s district heating production is on its way to achieving 50% carbon neutrality by 2022 thanks to its concerted efforts with Fortum. They further plan to discontinue the use of coal by 2025 to raise their net carbon-neutral share to about 85%.

Espoo plans discontinue the use of coal by 2025 to raise their net carbon-neutral share to about 85%.

Kari Lahti, General Manager, Energy Systems, Fortum eNext, Finland will share first-hand insights on decarbonising the the heating in Espoo at Carbon-Neutral District Heating 2021, happening on 2-3 March, 2021. 

Copenhagen will become the world’s largest carbon-neutral district heating system by using biomass instead of fossil fuels. A small city of Potsdam, near Berlin, Germany is currently relying on geothermal energy as its key clean heating source, hoping the city can reduce its greenhouse emission by 95% by 2025.

Graasten in Denmark is harnessing its solar power and biomass to replace fossil fuels as the energy sources for the local district heating system. Their solar collectors of around 20,000 m2 are used to heat homes and industrial facilities in the area.

As part of its low carbon district heat network plan for 2025, the UK plans to repurpose dozens of abandoned coal mines across Britain for geothermal energy and to provide low-carbon heating for homes.

Capture the Energy: Waste Heat Recovery

While the new generation of DHC networks will increase production and distribute locally available, renewable heat (excluding energy from traditional biomass), it hasn’t been able to wean the urban cities from its dependency over fossil fuel.

Many in the industry are looking at waste heat recovery as an alternative renewable energy solution. With the help of a centrifugal and absorption heat pumps, it is easy to recover waste heat from the power plant steam condenser. The quality and cost-effectiveness are higher if we capture the waste heat at a higher temperature. Since the industrial sector requires 50% of energy for heating, it can pioneer integrating circularity in the concept of energy transition and help reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

By integrating this wasted heat, the plants will

  • Lessen carbon emissions

  • Reduce energy cost

  • Increase overall efficiency

That means the energy consumed by industries can roughly produce 18 – 30% of waste heat ready for utilization.

Waste heat is not just limited to heating and warm water supply. We can utilise it for

  • Generation of Electricity

  • A capacity of 500kW can enable 50kW electricity.

  • Cooling Generation

  • A waste heat capacity of 20kW enables 12 and 15kW cooling capacity.

  • District Heating Integration

  • If there is a sufficient amount of heat (90 degrees Celsius) then it could be shared into the district heating system or supplied to neighbouring companies or buildings.

Currently, the most economically viable utilization of waste heat requires special proximity between the waste heat source and demand. Though energy conversion to electricity seems flexible and transportable, do we have the right technology to use it?

Get first-hand insights information from the pioneers developing Carbon-Neutral District Heating networks in Europe. Our panel consists of Speakers from experts from Fortum, Uniper, Enel X, ESB, Veitur Utilities and more; join us at “Carbon-Neutral District Heating 2021” on 2 & 3 March 2021 to bench-mark best-practices in Carbon-Neutral District Heating. To get early bird benefits, register today.