Highlights Core Theme 2: RES Heat

CT2 - 4th Plenary Meeting in Vienna

Core Theme 2 on RES Heat held a total of three parallel sessions on the topic of renewable district heating and cooling, a topic that was determined to be of interest during the 3rd Plenary Meeting in Warsaw. 

Headline 1: Assessment of the potential for new infrastructure for renewable district heating and cooling

During the 1st parallel session, the CT2 participants were provided with an overview of the broader policy context in order to get a better understanding of the links between the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive. A representative from the Concerted Action for the Energy Efficiency Directive (CA EED) presented the work of their expert groups Efficiency in Energy Supply, high efficiency CHP and heating/cooling on Member States’ experience of the comprehensive assessments of the potential of high-efficiency cogeneration and efficient district heating and cooling. A presentation by Denmark helped CT2 participants get a better understanding of current policies and future infrastructure plans within the country.

Headline 2: How to make district heating and cooling renewable

The 2nd parallel session focused on the topic of district heating and cooling and how Member States can convert and optimise existing district heating and cooling systems from largely fossil fuels to largely renewable sources. CT2 participants took a look at this topic from the perspective of financing and support schemes and technical issues. Three Member States, namely Germany, United Kingdom and Estonia, presented their approaches on decarbonising heating networks and increasing the share of renewables in their national district heating and cooling networks. Furthermore, a representative from the H2020 progRESsHEAT project showcased learnings from across Europe. The situation across Member States is very different. District Heating shares of the heat supply and RES shares in district heating have substantial variations across Member States and generally, are more common than district cooling. Southern Member States are more interested in cooling rather than heating and are looking for guidance from experienced countries. Future strategies by Member States encompass different measures such as connecting existing buildings to DHC networks, increasing RES shares, improving efficiency of buildings and modernizing/expanding existing networks. Regional legislation can support the deployment of smart and flexible district heating and cooling systems based on a higher share of RES. Integrating RES DHC into the heat planning of regions and municipalities is key to design an optimal heating and cooling supply that works for local conditions. 

Headline 3: The role of waste heat and cold in renewable district heating and cooling systems

The recast of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) specifically mentions how waste heat and cold can count towards the Member States’ renewable energy targets. Waste heat and cold from industry, sewage systems, underground ventilation systems, waste incineration and other sources can be integrated into district heating networks. They allow district heating companies to optimise the production of heat plants and CHP plants. The RED II requires Member States to carry out an assessment of the use of waste heat and cold as part of the comprehensive assessments conducted under Art. 14 of the EED to guide the development of national measures. CT2 participants took the opportunity presented in this 3rd parallel session to learn from participating Member States about current practices in regards to waste heat and cold and to discuss what their plans are for accounting for waste heat and cold in the future. The Netherlands gave a presentation on their plans of including waste heat in their building code in the future. Furthermore, representatives from DG ENER and EUROSTAT presented an update on the new provisions and changes resulting from the RED II. In summary, CT2 participants came to the conclusion that local parameters strongly influence district heating and cooling potential in individual countries and that stronger ambition is needed to move things forward. CT2 participants noted that, in many countries, municipalities are in charge of district heating and cooling development. As district heating and cooling systems are large infrastructure investments, starting long-term planning as well as leveraging investment into DHC now is important for a decarbonised future.

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