20 April 2021
KAMSTRUP - Digitalisation of district heating delivers

 

By Steen Schelle Jensen, Head of Business Development, Kamstrup

Winter 2020


Investing in remote reading and digitalisation is necessary to ensure EED compliance within district heating but also opens up to new opportunities for utilities, consumers as well as the green transition. Front runners have already delivered great results from combining their resolve with the right solutions and a trusted partner.

The Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) was created with European consumers in mind. It now requires monthly readings of heat meters and improved data availability for end users to ensure energy billing transparency and to empower them to take responsibility for changing their consumption behaviour.

For most utilities, EED compliance involves a considerable investment. However, remotely read meters and frequent data also represent new opportunities for value creation. And once the meters are installed, the additional expense to collect daily or even hourly data is minimal compared to the potential it unlocks.

Data-driven optimisation
First of all, frequent meter data combined with the right tools and analytics can help make district heating the obvious choice wherever feasible. This could include improving customer closeness and motivating further engagement. But having the right data also enables utilities to specifically guide customers on lowering their consumption, monitor the efficiency of their installations or perhaps even offer to take over installation operation entirely.

Secondly, smart meter data provide the very basis for utilities to optimise their core tasks of producing and distributing district heating as well as areas like asset management, design and planning. Also, having frequent data available is key to enabling a cost-effective green transition because that is a prerequisite for lowering distribution temperatures and integrating more renewable energy sources, which impacts costs substantially.

Studies show that cost reduction gradients for renewables and recycled heat, like geothermal, solar or industrial excess heat, are a factor 6-7 more cost-sensitive than for energy sources that are burned, like traditional waste and biomass. In other words, with a heat supply based on clean energy sources, utilities generate much higher savings for every degree they lower their temperatures, and therefore the green transition business case depends on a utility’s ability to do so.

Unmistakable results
We are seeing a unique resolve among many European district heating utilities, and several of our customers have already created concrete and measurable results based on frequent meter data and increased digitalisation. They include significantly lowering forward and return temperatures, reducing heat loss and removing hundreds of bypasses – all while also saving their customers money on their energy bills.

For one customer, remotely read meters, frequent data and targeted analytics enabled them to lower their forward temperature by 6-8°C, cut pipeline losses by 14.5% and reduce annual heat production by 2.5%. Translating new and large amounts of data into actions was a process, but being able to monitor the exact temperature throughout the distribution network allowed them to continuously digitalise and optimise their network and operations, ultimately resulting in an ROI of only 4-5 years.

Same goal. Different journeys
EED or not, when it comes to digitalisation of the district heating value chain, one size will never fit all. But it does represent both new demands as well as new opportunities that cannot be ignored. At Kamstrup, we pride ourselves on having the competences, solutions and experience from mature district heating markets to help and support utilities in more immature markets on their same journey. A journey that goes beyond EED compliance to utilising and benefitting from the data-driven value creation it also enables.