With an ambitious EU Green Deal on the table, providing secure, affordable and low carbon energy stays high on the priority list of local authorities to increase air quality and reach their energy and climate targets in 2030 and establish new ones by 2050. With heating and cooling (H&C) responsible for 50% of the final energy demand in Europe, decarbonisation of the sector will be crucial to reach those targets.
According to the latest study on the 14 European countries with the highest H&C demands, district energy can play a leading role in the energy transition and for achieving an economically viable decarbonisation of the H&C sector in urban areas (see: Heat Roadmap Europe 4).
Eight European cities together with the Centre for Sustainable Energy in Bristol, as well as partners from research, private and public associations and the city network ICLEI Europe have developed an open-source online tool designed specifically to simplify and optimise complex network planning processes for local planning authorities.
Despite their potential to integrate renewable sources and increase energy efficiency, the deployment of new, as well as the modernisation of already existing district networks is often hampered by the complex planning processes and a lack of data and capacity. To feed local district energy networks more sustainably and energy efficiently, cities need to identify suitable renewable and excess heat or cooling energy sources, such as industrial complexes, lake water or data centres and connections between them.
The screening and evaluation of all possible networks, supply and building connections and their financial, technical, infrastructural and environmental implications thus represents a time- and resource-intensive task even for the most experienced planners.
Within the EU funded THERMOS project, Warsaw (PL), Islington (UK), Jelgava (LV), Granollers (ES), Cascais (PT), Berlin (DE), Alba Iulia (RO) and London (UK) have developed a tool for identifying the best heat-network options in cities directly online through the open-source THERMOS software accessible via standard web browsers.