3rd International District Energy Climate Summit

The International District Energy Association Announces
Winners of the 3rd Global District Energy Climate Awards

Award winners of the 3rd Global District Energy Climate Awards (see below)

Winners of the 3rd Global District Energy Climate Awards. (Click twice for full-size photo)

Scroll down for details on each winning organization.

Panelists in the first panel discussion, "Future Proofing Cities, Communities and Campuses with District Energy," include: (l-r): Moderator Rob Thornton-IDEA; Dennis Fotinos-Enwave Energy; Michael King-Aberdeen Heat & Power, Ltd.; Birger Lauersen-Danske Fjernvarme; Saumil Shukla-Con Edison Steam Operations; Bengt Ostling-Falu Energy + Water; Marko Riipinen-District Heating + Cooling, Helsinki Energy; Jim Riley-Texas A&M University (click for larger photo; see Winners).

On September 23-24, the International District Energy Association (IDEA) hosted the 3rd Global District Energy Climate Awards and Summit in New York City in conjunction with Euroheat & Power and the International Energy Agency Technology Network (IEA).

The Summit gathered industry leaders from across North America, Europe and the Middle East to discuss new innovations in district energy infrastructure.  District energy systems deliver economic and environmental benefits by optimizing local energy resources, improving trade balances, reducing emissions and strengthening community resilience through more robust and reliable local power generation and distribution of cleaner thermal energy.

District heating and cooling infrastructure enables significant carbon footprint reductions by allowing cities to harvest alternative energy sources and surplus heat that would otherwise be wasted. Economies of scale enable investments in clean energy technologies like lake-source cooling, waste energy recovery, and large scale solar thermal with seasonal pit storage.

An international panel of experts chaired by the IEA Technology Network chose nine submittals to receive "Awards of Excellence" for outstanding achievements in energy efficiency, resource optimization and environmental sustainability, and two submittals for Special Awards for "Innovation" and "Integration of Renewable Energy." SEE DETAILS BELOW.

"Cities, communities and campuses around the world are investing in district energy and combined heat & power systems to curb greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen their local economies and increase the resiliency of their energy infrastructure," said Robert Thornton, President & CEO of the International District Energy Association.

"The 2013 IEA Award of Excellence winners represent a range of technologies in settings large and small, from very cold northern climates in Nordic countries to arid desert cities in the Middle East.  District energy systems deliver tremendous economic benefits and significant environmental gains at the same time."


INDEX OF WINNERS: Click on system name in the following list to see description. Click on [top] links to return here.

Municipal Schemes Serving More than 10,000 Citizens—Expansion

Helsingin Energia

Helsinki, Finland


Helsingin Energia

Marko Riipinen (left) accepting the award from Rob Thornton, IDEA President & CEMarko Riipinen (right) accepting the award from Rob Thornton, IDEA President & CEO.

Helsingin Energia’s DHC smart city- solution combines CHP, district heating and district cooling in the most energy-efficient way in the world. Helsingin Energia is a business-based and profitable energy company not subsidized by the municipality. We promote end-use energy efficiency by monitoring, reporting and providing customer guidance, and help them to make cost- and energy-efficient choices and use energy wisely.

During the year 2012, we updated our strategy and action plan towards CO2-neutral energy production.

Helsinki Energy’s DHC and CHP infrastructure consists of four CHP plants. The system is supported and diversified by harnessing waste heat accumulated along the energy chain. The DHC system enables the production of electricity corresponding to double the amount of the need of Helsinki and simultaneously Helsingin Energia can supply over 90% of the need for heat and also produce cooling. Helsingin Energia manages an efficient district energy supply with energy storage and by optimizing the energy use of our customers. We also aim to maximize the use of our system wherever there is need for heating or cooling.

Our DHC system enables our customer to gain a LEED certified way of housing and living. The operational reliability and guarantee of delivery of the DHC system in Helsinki is high. The energy production of Helsingin Energia is increasing while carbon dioxide emissions are falling. Future energy solutions are constantly being planned and tested.

Interaction with our customers and energy end-users is one of the key elements of our operational principles.

  Municipal Schemes Serving More than 10,000 Citizens—Modernization
Falu Energy & Vatten AB

Falun, Sweden


Eva Gräftevall (left) and Ben Östling of Falu Energi & Vatten AB with award.

Eva Gräftevall (left) and Ben Östling of Falu Energi & Vatten AB with award.

Eva Gräftevall (left) and Bengt Östling of Falu Energi & Vatten AB with award.

Falun´s investment in climate neutral production of heating, cooling and electricity has globally reduced CO2 emissions by 145 000 tonnes/year. This is equal to emissions from 47 000 cars!

Large investments have been made by Falu Energi & Vatten AB to replace fossil energy and reduce the global CO2 emissions with renewable power production. Since 2007 the annual production has doubled.

Over the past five years Västermalmsverket has evolved from being solely a combined heat and power plant. By investing in an absorption cooling machine we have reduced the use of electricity for conventional cooling installations. At the same time we are able to increase the production of electricity at Västermalmsverket.

We have built a wood pellet factory which helps us to produce more renewable energy during the warmer period when the need for heat is at its lowest. By doing so we have increased our electricity production and we get wood pellets to use in our district heating production during the winter. These four ingredients make our plant a combined bioenergy plant  - it is unique due to simultaneous production of heat, cooling, electricity and wood pellets. And by the end of summer 2014 the system will include district heating being transported through a line between the cities of Falun and Borlänge. This increases our possibility to maintain district heating as a competitive product.

In order to develop a sustainable district heating industry there is a need to spread knowledge about district heating´s minimal environmental impact. This knowledge needs to be transferred not only to customers and the public. It is also important that politicians, policy makers, officials and industry understand total systems and the large picture.

District Energy St. Paul
Saint Paul, Minn., USA 






• SUMMARY: "District Energy St. Paul Narrative" (PDF)

• VIDEO of Award Presentation




Ken Smith of District Energy St. Paul (left) accepts award from Rob Thornton

Ken Smith of District Energy St. Paul (left) accepts award from Rob Thornton.

District Energy St. Paul envisioned a future that used district heating and cooling infrastructure to integrate a variety of local, renewable energy sources and technologies. District Energy has doubled the amount of buildings served from 1985, yet is producing less carbon thanks to the incorporation of biomass, CHP, and solar.

Customers benefit from a modern, integrated system offering fuel flexibility, advantages for green certifications, and renewable energy and energy conservation technologies.

The heating system serves more than 32 million square feet of building space and operates at twice the efficiency of the former steam district heating system while using the same amount of fuel. Our system has achieved notable reductions of greenhouse gas and other criteria pollutants resulting from our drive to maximize renewable fuels, increase fuel flexibility and fully integrate efficiency. The carbon footprint from our high-performance solar thermal installation resulted in carbon emission reductions of approximately 460,000 pounds in 2012. Our combined heat and power plant has reduced sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions, carbon dioxide emissions, and the use of oil, natural gas and coal. Beginning in 1993, the integration of district cooling significantly reduced the use of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants in customer buildings. We are proud that we offer environmental benefits in addition to fuels and technologies providing a platform to achieve rate stability.

District Energy has fully integrated our own large-scale solar thermal installation into the district heating system, integrated a customer's solar thermal installation into the heating system loop, enhanced the data collection and metering components of the system, installed fiber optic lines in much of the distribution system and developed a Delta T program for customers to manage efficiency. Modernization has not been limited to the pursuit of system enhancements and energy efficiency improvements. Communication and community engagement has changed deepen the conversation with customers, community members and stakeholders about global climate change and the ways we can minimize our energy footprint.  Without resting on our laurels, we continue to evaluate opportunities including seasonal storage of hot and chilled water, flue gas capture and reuse, and the integration of energy islands.


Hengelo, The Netherlands




Wim de Jong (left) and Jan Rooijakkers of Twence holding their award.

For years, the public debate on how to achieve a more sustainable supply of energy had focused on electricity. Waste processor Twence realised that using residual heat from the production of electricity and even replacing the production of electricity by supplying heat and steam (especially to replace natural gas) would have greater positive effects, both for the environment and for a more efficient use of the energy generated from waste (WtE) and biomass.First of all, the source of energy not only had to be sustainable but above all also reliable. Ensuring a reliability of supply of over 99% would require at least two different production sources. To that end, and to enable better economies of scale in the production of energy from waste, Twence invested in a new WtE line and a dedicated biomass power plant.

The main challenge was to forge partnerships with contracts that would enable investments to last 20 years. We succeeded in doing so with the two main potential customers: AkzoNobel for steam (to evaporate brine in their salt-production plant) and Essent for heat (for district heating), in both cases to replace their gas-fired boilers and CHP plants.

In 2009 and 2010 we invested over €15 million to connect our power plants to Enschede's municipal district-heating system. This involved technical in-plant modifications to enable the sourcing of steam and heat as well as long-distance transport pipelines connecting our plants to the main system in Enschede. This was done in close cooperation with energy company Essent, which operates that system to provide heat to end-users.

In close cooperation, Twence and AkzoNobel invested over €10 million in technical plants and a pipeline for transporting steam to AkzoNobel's salt production plant in Hengelo. In 2011 and 2012, using steam from Twence, AkzoNobel already managed to reduce its natural gas consumption by some 90 million Nm3 and to avoid emitting more than 165,000 tonnes of CO2. This led the AkzoNobel board of management to recognise the Hengelo site as one of the company's most sustainable plants.

In two years, starting in 2011, both projects saved a total of over 120 million Nm3 of natural gas, and some 220,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions were avoided. The setup was further expanded in late 2012 with a major increase in the supply of steam to AkzoNobel. Studies are investigating the possibility of extending the system to supply the district-heating networks in Hengelo and other communities in Twenty years.

  Award for New Scheme

Qatar Cool, Doha, Qatar



• VIDEO of Award Presentation





Wael Ayoub (left) of Qatar Cool accepting award from Rob Thornton.
Qatar District Cooling Company, "Qatar Cool," was incorporated in November 2003 as a Qatari Closed Stock Company. The company was set up with the intention of providing district-cooling services to the public, commercial and industrial sectors of Qatar.The company's first plant in West Bay has a capacity of 30,000 Ton of Refrigeration, began operations in September 2006, the second plant in West Bay, with a capacity of 37,000 tons of refrigeration started operations in October 2009. Both Plants are providing cooling service to almost 50% of existing towers in West Bay of Doha.

Qatar Cool's Integrated District Cooling Plant on The Pearl-Qatar was inaugurated in November 2010 with a capacity of 130,000 Tons of Refrigeration, which made it the main eco-friendly technology on the island and the largest district cooling plant in the world.

The Plant has 52 centrifugal chillers arranged in 26 models in series counter flow arrangement forming a 5,000 tons of refrigeration train. It has 26 horizontal double suction condenser water pumps (constant flow) with a rate of 7,500 US gallons per minute.

The primary power system is supplied with an 11kV multi-feeder supply, 11kV-3.3kV step- down transformers to serve the chillers. The remainder of the system is supplied with 415 volts. IDCP is operated, controlled and monitored by a SCADA system. Also, in addition to the usage of the fresh water the plant is equipped to use the Treated Sewage Effluent (TSE) water.

Moreover, IDCP cooling towers blow down water could be discharged to the sea or the sewer system or used for irrigation purposes.

The total area served is more than 3.9 million square meters (41 million square feet), occupied by 45,000 residents more than 100 towers that include approximately 15,000 apartments and 1,500 villas.

Small and Medium Communities Serving Less than 10.000 Citizens

Sunstore 4

Marstal, Denmark



Birger Lauersen (left) accepting award from Rob Thornton.

The city of Marstal, in the Danish island of Aero, has adopted in summer 2012 the Sunstore4 model, a 100% renewable district heating system integrating several different technologies: solar thermal, biomass boiler and heat pump. The plant also include ORC electricity production and a 75,000 m3 seasonal heat storage.

This innovative and flexible solution also provides an affordable heat production cost, between 40 and 60 €/MWh. The company managing the district heating system is owned by the heat consumers themselves, which founded a cooperative company with two main goals: producing heat from local energy sources and assure a negligible impact on the environment. At the same time, by assuring a long term stability of the heat cost, being independent from the price oscillations of conventional fossil fuels, it provides the citizens with a clear view of their economic future.

The heat supply is about 32 GWh/year, 55% of which is provided by solar thermal, 40% by biomass and only 5% by the heat pump. It should be noted also that solar thermal shows no polluting emissions at all in its operation phase and that biomass is CO2 neutral.

The Sunstore 4 project has been developed and implemented by a large international research group, in the framework of a FP7 funded European project.

Aberdeen Heat & Power District Energy

Aberdeen, North East Scotland,UK


Michael King (right) and Councillor Barney Crockett (center) accepting award from Rob Thornton.

Aberdeen Heat & Power Ltd (AHP) is a 'not for profit' company that was set up by Aberdeen City Council in 2002 to develop and operate district heating and CHP systems in the city.  The network has grown through implementation of three principal projects and now supplies around 1750 flats in multistory blocks and 9 public buildings. 

Carbon emissions from these buildings have reduced by 45% and typical fuel costs to tenants have been reduced by 50% over the previous heating systems.  Customer satisfaction surveys have indicated that tenants are very satisfied. 

The schemes have received three high profile awards within Scotland and the UK. 

AHP continues to develop their District Heating network and has recently completed installing a £1m extension of underground mains towards the City Centre with the aim of providing heat to the Council's Town House and other public buildings en-route including a health campus.

AHP's not-for-profit community-based governance structure is unique within the UK. AHP is exploring opportunities for greater fuel diversity from renewable sources including biomass. Furthermore, AHP and the Council have entered (14 May 2013) a partnership to install a fuel cell fed by bio-gas from a landfill site. The fuel cell will provide heat into the network, electricity and hydrogen for the Council's vehicle fleet.

Campus-Sized Systems

Cornell University Combined Heat and Power Project

Ithaca, New York, USA






Cornell (l to r) Jim Adams (Cornell), Peter Veldhuizen (CHA), Kyu Whang (Cornell), Robert Bland (Cornell), David Frostclapp (Cornell), and Lanny Joyce (Cornell) with the award.

In 2009, Cornell University released the Climate Action Plan, which sets a goal of reducing campus net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. One of the biggest roadblocks to climate neutrality is coal.

Historically, Cornell University burned nearly 60,000 metric tons of coal for campus heating. Cornell's Beyond Coal Initiative was launched in 2010. The key component in the success of this initiative is the new Combined Heat and Power Plant, which achieved a total operational efficiency of supplied heat and power to the campus of nearly 80% for fiscal year 2012. The results of integrating CHP and eliminating coal are (1) an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 55,000 metric tons/year; (2) Kyoto Protocol commitments are exceeded, and (3) significant pollutant reductions are achieved by no longer combusting 60,000 metric tons per year of coal.

The easier and cheaper way would have been to install conventional natural gas boilers, continue using coal, and buy most of our electricity from the grid. However, Cornell decided that the cost premium over standard practices was the right thing to do and demonstrates a real commitment to promoting sustainability.

Combined heat and power (CHP) is the simultaneous production of electricity and the utilization of "waste" heat for heating requirements. The project is based on two new dual fuel Gas Turbine Generators and natural gas duct fired Heat Recovery Steam Generators for the purpose of supplying the Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) campus with electricity and heating steam. The electrical production displaces electricity previously purchased from the local utility company and the heating steam production displaces steam produced by existing boilers.

The project is wholly owned, and operated by Cornell. The project produces 80% of campus electrical power. The project was more complex than installing some new equipment. A dedicated (Cornell owned) 3.2 mile long gas line was constructed to meet natural gas needs. In addition, a major renewal of the electrical substation was needed, increasing the capacity of the substation from 50 MVA to 78 MVA. The Central Energy Plant provides all the centrally produced power and district energy services such as steam and chilled water. The plant serves approximately 150 buildings (13 million sq ft) of the central campus and annually produces 215,000,000 killowatt-hrs of electricity, 1,000,000 thousand pounds of steam, and 45,000,000 ton-hrs of chilled water.

Texas A&M University Combined Heat & Power (CHP) System

College Station, Texas, USA



Texas A&M



• Summary: "TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY Utilities & Energy Services" (PDF)


• VIDEO of presentation




Texas A&M (l to r) Roger Copeland (Jacobs), Jim Riley (Texas A&M), Les Williams (Texas A&M), Kevin Fox (Jacobs) and Rod Schwass (Jacobs) with the award.

The Texas A&M University (TAMU) Utilities & Energy Services (UES) Department produces, delivers, and manages utilities and energy serving close to 24 million GSF on the Texas A&M University campus. UES determines purchased energy requirements, manages extensive utility production and delivery systems for electricity, cooling, heating, water, and other services, manages automation systems to reliably and efficiently regulate building conditions, meters and recovers all cost for utilities and energy services, while ensuring customer needs are effectively met.

Other services provided include solid waste and recycling management, domestic water production and delivery, and operation of two wastewater treatment facilities. Texas A&M University (TAMU) is planning for significant campus growth and conducted an evaluation of existing systems and expansion requirements. This study reviewed campus utility infrastructure including chilled water, heating hot water, steam, power generation, electric distribution, domestic hot water, wastewater, water, and storm drainage.

TAMU recently implemented a CHP upgrade stemming from this study that included a 32.5 MW gas turbine coupled to a 210klb/hr high pressure heat recovery steam generator. The HRSG sends steam to a new 11 MW extraction/back pressure steam turbine whose extraction steam is used for domestic hot water and campus heating. This $70M project was funded partially by a $10M grant from the US Department of Energy. TAMU was targeting $500,000 in monthly savings. Actual savings in the first month of operation exceeded $1M, and is able to go toward teaching, research, and other functions on campus.

The TAMU CHP System was recently awarded a 2013 ENERGY STAR® CHP Award by the US Environmental Protection Agency. These upgrades are coupled with a 40% demand side reduction in energy consumption per gross square foot since 2002 and result in $140M in savings which has provided measurable improvement in safety, reliability, efficiency and customer service to the 50,000 students on the TAMU campus. Texas A&M UES is clearly at the forefront of energy efficiency from demand and supply sides.

Special Award for Innovation

Bio-oil production connected to existing District Heating and Combined Heat & Power System

Joensuu, Finland







• Summary: "Oil Production in Joensuu – A New Type of Trigeneration Connected to Existing DH and CHP"


• VIDEO of presentation




Fortum Jukka Heiskanen (left) accepts award from Rob Thornton.

Bio-oil production in city of Joensuu is new type of trigeneration concept that is added to existing district heating and CHP. It is a great example of expansion of district energy business to new markets and areas beyond traditional district energy scheme. Bio-oil production create another way to utilize and capitalize local biomass that otherwise would be unused. It provides profitable business opportunity for local district energy company as well as reduces fossil supply, cut CO2 emissions and decrease imported fuel dependency. It also increases utilization of existing district energy system and CHP plant.PRF of district heating in Joensuu is equal to zero.

District heat production is dominated by CHP (94%) that is primarily fuelled by local biomass and also by local peat. Share of local fuels in Joensuu district energy system is 95% and it will be 100 % next year. Current renewable share is 65%. Current CO2 emission factor (2012) is 103 g/kWh and current yearly CO2 reduction by DH is about 120 000 tons. Bio-oil will lower CO2 emission factor close to zero by cutting yearly greenhouse gas emissions about 60 000 tons. Overall yearly CO2 reduction by trigeneration and entire district energy system in Joensuu will be 180 000 tons. SO2 emissions will be reduced more than 300 tons by bio-oil.

Not only is the productivity of DH and CHP enhanced, but also bio-oil production has even larger positive impact on other local business like forestry and harvesting. The biomass chain for bio-oil production employs about 50 people. The alternative for bio-oil would be imported fuels, which causes money to flow out of the area and the country. District energy system with trigeneration provides the best heating option for DH customers, profitable business for Fortum and a lot of jobs around the area as well as keeping fuel expenditures in the host country. Joensuu is a great example how district energy enables a sustainable energy solution and generates economic benefits for entire area.

The Joensuu plant is the first industrial scale bio-oil production that is integrated to CHP in the world. However, this type of bio-oil production can be executed anywhere in the world. New trigeneration concept enables expansion of district energy to new sectors, markets and areas.

Special Award for Integration of Renewable Energy

Princess Noura University for Women

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia







Texas A&M

Farouk Ahmad (left) accepting award from Rob Thornton.

Implementation of a large scale solar thermal district application to provide for space heating and hot water needs of the Princess Nora University for Women in Saudi Arabia (PNUW).
The University Campus has to supply 40,000 students, 13 faculties, lecturers and university personnel, dormitories, research facilities and a gymnasium. The area supplied with hot water and space heating even includes a hospital and hotel along with all other necessary infrastructure for living, working and studying. The implementation of the solar system should lower the capital cost, lower operational and maintenance cost, support the saving of conventional fuels and provide safer operation.

The challenges of this actual case study are the arid desert conditions with possible severe sandstorms generating fine dust and the desert climate where it can be very hot during the day and very cold, sometimes freezing during the night. The sandstorms generating fine dust require the system to be built sealed and in addition the cleaning process should be easy and not altogether time consuming. The complexity of excess heat has to be resolved since in summer there is no need of space heating and during vacation periods the demand of hot is much lower.Because of a freezing probability during the cold desert nights the system and solutions will have to be tested to withstand low ambient temperature.

The size of the project causes challenges in space allocation and uncertainty of solar input because of weather conditions. Integration with sophisticated Building Management Systems (BMS) has to be implemented. Easy and simple transfer of technology to the customer should be achieved. Saving of carbon emission gained by saving on fuel consumption.

With a solid background and engineering experience, identification of the customer needs for the project and the analysis of the given facts for the supply of domestic hot water and space heating during the 40 heating days in Riyadh, are conducted and a solar supported district heating network is installed. The demand of heat is covered by oil fired boilers with a peak load capacity of 70 MWth together with a 25 MWth generated from 36,305 m2 of flat plate collectors especially designed to withstand harsh desert conditions with low maintenance needs. The collectors are placed on the rooftop of a 60,000 m2 warehouse. During the summer period the thermal load of the district heating network is calculated to be 30MWth.

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