Buildings Guide

Space Heating  »  District heating


District heating will increase energy efficiency and / or save fossil fuels, if the heat source is an efficient cogeneration of heat and power (CHP) plant, and / or uses renewable energies, or waste heat. Up to 100% or even more of energy savings on the heating side are possible. If the heat source is from fossil fuels without CHP, energy-efficient individual heating systems will be more energy-efficient than district heating.

Individual heating systems offer limited possibilities for the application of economically feasible renewable energy options and energy efficient solutions like combined power and heat (CHP). A broad exploitation of these potentials can be achieved with district heating, which has several advantages when compared to individual heating systems. These are:

  • Bundling of heat demand which allows to reach an economically viable unit size for sustainable heat generation
  • More equal distribution of the heat demand based on grouping of heat consumers which in turn allows to extend the annual operation period of the heat generation plant
  • Provision of favourable conditions for heat storage which allows to integrate several fluctuating heat sources like solar and waste heat
  • Inclusion of a high heat storage capacity which helps for example CHP-operators to optimize their operation periods according to electricity feed-in prices

Because of this, a high share of district heating will be very advantageous in the future, but only if after a certain transition period a system emerges, in which at least 80 % of the heat is produced by CHP, renewable energy or waste heat. Several impact factors influence the efficiency of district heating and a lot of options are available, which improve the energy balance of the district system significantly.

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