Decarbonising with Unconventional Sources

Metro Systems and Hospitals Will Heat our Dense City Centres

There is enough waste energy produced in the EU to heat the EU’s entire building stock. 

Waste heat recovery from energy-intensive industry and cogeneration is slowly picking up in the EU. But did you know that even the excess heat produced in a metro system could heat houses? And did you know that supermarkets, data centres and sewage systems also produce excess heat that can be used?

The advantages of unconventional urban waste heat sources are straight-forward: these sources offer low-carbon energy that would otherwise go to waste. They are ideally situated, namely in city centres where the heat is needed and can easily be fed into new or existing district heating networks. On top of that, they can help to mitigate the urban heat island effect, the relative warmth of urban areas compared to rural ones. Despite of this great potential, only few small-scale examples of urban waste heat recovery are currently present across the EU. A new EU-funded project has taken on the challenge to change this: ReUseHeat will demonstrate first of their kind advanced, modular and replicable systems enabling the recovery and reuse of excess heat available in urban spaces.

Four large-scale demonstrators in the project will show that this is not science-fiction but technically feasible and economically viable. In Brunswick, Germany, a data centre will heat a newly-built residential area. In Bucharest, Romania, the excess heat from the metro system will be used in the local district heating network. In Nice, France, office space will be heated with excess heat from sewage collectors. In Madrid, Spain, the waste heat of the cooling system of a hospital will be used for hot water and space heating.

The main lessons learned will be published at the end of the project in the form of a handbook that will provide guidance for investors and project developers and support future uptake of urban excess heat solutions. It will include innovative and efficient technologies and solutions, suitable business models and contractual arrangements, estimation of investment risk, bankability and impact of urban excess heat recovery investments and authorisation procedures.


We would not throw food away, so why would we waste freely available heat?


ReUseHeat kicked off in October 2017 and will run for four years. It is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and Innovation.