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District heating provides the necessary flexibility to integrate, utilize and store waste heat and fluctuating energy from renewables, ultimately increasing the efficiency of the entire energy system. As a result, it holds the potential to fully decarbonize heating of buildings, which counts for 40% of the total European Union (EU) energy consumption.
However, unleashing this potential will require district heating to grow and become more sustainable and efficient while remaining both profitable, competitive and attractive to end-users – and that challenge is exactly as complicated as it sounds. Digitalisation is a key part of the solution because it gives district energy providers the transparency and overview they need to navigate in systems that are becoming more and more complex.
The digital (r)evolution
As district heating continues to evolve on its way towards 4th generation district heating, finding out tomorrow exactly what you should have done today is no longer good enough. Real-time decisions require real-time data. Essentially, digitalization of district heating is about connecting the need for increased efficiency and optimization with the opportunities made available by recent technological developments.
Frequent data from intelligent meters and sensors form the very foundation for the digital district energy provider while automated meter reading systems and advanced analytics enable the monitoring, analysis and planning necessary in the near future. And with the revised Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), the requirement to install only remotely read energy meters that can deliver frequent data is actually less than one year away.