Heat Roadmap Europe 2050

By Birger Lauersen, Manager International Affairs, Danish District Heating Association
Spring 2013

Focus on heat and bottom-up approach reveals considerable energy benefits for Europe

  • Save €14 billion/year
  • Reduce heating costs with 11%
  • Create 200.000 jobs
  • Increase energy efficiency
  • Reduce energy imports and emissions
  • And improve the electricity grid

All in one package, using simple and proven technology!

The European Commission’s Energy Roadmap 2050 foresees only a very modest growth in the future for district heating. Due to low geographical resolution, traditional energy modelling based on national energy balances excludes specific local possibilities, and favours generic possibilities available everywhere, such as electric and gas.

In this pre-study, commissioned by the European organisation for district heating and cooling - Euroheat & Power, ambitious but realistic growth rates are assessed for district heating in the EU27 until 2050. The methodology is a combination of hour-by-hour energy modelling of the EU27 energy system and mapping of local conditions. The study finds that deliveries from district heating in the EU can grow by a factor of 2.1 until 2030 and by a factor of 3.3 until 2050.

More district heating in Europe will reduce the energy system costs considerably since local heat recycling and renewable energy use will reduce expensive energy imports, while also increasing the efficiency of both electricity and heat sectors. The overall annual cost reduction in the heating sector can be about €14 billion by 2050. This corresponds to a relative cost decrease of 11%. Socio-economic payback time is estimated to be two to three years for heat distribution pipes put into the ground to recycle more heat.

More district heating will generate local jobs since investments will replace expensive imports of fossil fuels to Europe. Approximately 200-220.000 jobs will be created in Europe due to local investments in heat recycling, renewable energy supply, and extended or new heat grids.

Since fossil fuels are substituted with local resources, the reduced primary energy supply from fossil fuels will also reduce emissions of carbon dioxide for all heat demands served by district heating systems, with up to 13-17 %

The reduced energy import will also increase the future security of supply and give more positive balances of foreign exchange.

With a high proportion of intermittent renewable electricity supply, a smart energy system is crucial so that all sectors can contribute to a balance supply and demand. One of the proven flexible partners is district heating systems which can provide balancing power in both directions, with electric boilers and large heat pumps together with thermal storages absorbing excess electricity generation, while combined heat and power plants actively supporting the electricity supply system during power deficits.

60 million EU citizens today are served by district heating systems. But cities with at least one system have a total population of 140 million inhabitants, and approximately 57% of the EU population lives in regions that have at least one district heating system. Hence, more sustainable heat can be easily delivered in the future by expanding existing district heating systems.

The study stresses the need to communicate the local possibilities for district heating to urban and regional planners. The methodology applied in this pre-study, which is a combination of energy modelling and mapping of the local conditions using a high geographical resolution, is crucial for district heating analysis, since the potential for expansion is dependent on local heat resources and demands.

There is a need for recognition and increased details of the heat sector in energy policy analysis and the energy balances employed, so that specific local possibilities are included and policy focus only on generic possibilities (electricity and gas) is avoided

See full study: http://www.heatroadmap.eu

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