District heating and cooling is a proven solution for delivering heating, hot water and cooling services through a network of insulated pipes, from a central point of generation to the end user.
District heating and cooling networks are also referred to as heat networks or district energy networks. They are suited to feed in locally available, renewable and low-carbon energy sources; solar thermal and geothermal heat, waste heat from industry, transport, commercial and services facilities, heat from combined heat and power plants. The ability to integrate diverse energy sources means customers are not dependent upon a single source of supply.
District heating and cooling networks are inherently diverse and variable in terms of size and load; while employing similar operating principles, each network develops according to specific local circumstances and adapts to continuous innovation.
The networks are based on economies of scale, as the generation of heat in one large plant can often be more efficient than production in multiple smaller ones. A growing number of cities worldwide are adopting modern district energy solutions, as the best way to bring sustainable heating and cooling in dense urban environments.
The refurbishment, construction and expansion of district energy networks (combining district heating and district cooling, integrating and balancing a large share of renewable power, serving as thermal storage) are prerequisites for the smart energy systems of the future.
The constant evolution of district heating and cooling mirrors that of the broader energy transition. More efficiency, more renewables and more flexibility lead to a better energy system.