District heating and cooling: cities going circular for a carbon neutral Europe

Thu 10, October 2019
11:30 - 13:00 CET

Cities and their managers are key stakeholders to ensure successful energy transition that would lead us towards carbon neutrality by 2050. The local technical, financial and managerial innovation takes place precisely in urban settings, which are also pioneers of integrating circularity in the concept of energy transition. There are many paths that can be taken by city leaders to reach their energy, climate and circularity goals, but one solution in particular stands out: district heating networks can become modern vectors of territorial energy integration and sector coupling.  This workshop will be focused on the role of high efficient district heating networks (DHN) as it will facilitate the exchange of emerging expertise and knowledge on their deployment and modernisation, taking the example of existing and prospective initiatives. Experienced representatives of local authorities, energy agencies and global companies will be given the floor to share tools and examples of innovative solutions which enable increased energy efficiency, the integration of renewable and waste energy sources as well as the use of energy storage options. This leads to enhanced overall resource efficiency, the creation of local jobs, the decarbonisation of the local energy system and better air quality. Ultimately, DHN can be a solution that is likely to improve resilience of cities and quality of life of citizens, as well as contributing towards decarbonisation of the heating sector by 2050.

Kristina Dely, Project Manager, Energy Cities - The European association of Cities in Energy Transition, France.
Donna Gartland, Senior Energy Planner, CODEMA - Dublin's Energy Agency, Ireland.
Paul Gatt, President, European Federation of Chief Executives in Local Government, Malta.
Erwan LE MARCHAND, Directeur-Energie, Developpement Durable et Transition, Lille Metropole, France.
Dominiek Vandewiele, Project manager in sustainable energy policy, Intercommunale Leiedal, Belgium.
Kamila Waciega, Director - Energy - Public Affairs Department, Veolia, France.
A greener Europe
Codema (Dublin’s Energy Agency), Energy Cities - Project, Euroheat & Power, European Federation of Chief Executives in Local Government (UDITE), Kortrijk City Council, Lille Metropole
English (EN), Français (FR)
Copper hall.
Address: Mont des Arts, 1000 Brussels

Session summary

The session was co-hosted by UDITE, the European Federation of Chief Executives in Local Government, Energy Cities, the Interreg NEW HeatNet project and Veolia. Kicking off the session the moderator, Kristina Dely from Energy Cities, invited the audience to indicate (using Sli.do) which sector they represented. The breakdown showed local/regional authorities: 47%, NGO 13%, Business 7%, National-European decision maker 13%, and other 20%.

Paul Gatt, UDITE’s President, spoke of the change that is confronting local authorities and especially technologies. Faced by aging populations and austerity, local authorities needed to find sustainable solutions for the long term. With climate at the top of the agenda and local authorities being the closest level of government to citizens, DHC is a critical local technology especially with the transition to low temperature 5th generation technologies with wider application in rural areas and smaller districts.

Donna Gartland, from Codema, representing the NEW HeatNet project, posed the question - Why local authorities should be involved in DHC? She outlined a number of economic, environmental and social reasons including the opportunity to reuse local resources, reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, create revenue streams, generate employment  and reduce fuel poverty with security of supply and stable prices with hot water on demand. Donna concluded with 4 steps for local authorities: 1) knowledge sharing, 2) understanding the energy landscape (mapping), 3) supporting policies and incentives and 4) leading by example.

Kamila Waciega, from Veolia, referred to a case study in Poznan, Poland’s 5th largest city where national and regional funds had come together in the drive to improve air quality by helping citizens to change their heating systems. The "Green Poznan Project" is a long-term partnership with Veolia since 2002.  At the heart of the project is Volkswagen where its factory requires a lot of energy and produces significant waste energy that is used to supply the local DHC network. PPPs are vital and the ERDF has financed around one third of the investment. Kamila underlined the importance of climate policies, national implementation and the vital role that ERDF will continue to play in the period from 2021 to 2027.

Dominiek Vandewiele, a Sustainable Energy Manager from Leiedal in Belgium, spoke about energy planning in smaller communities.  Currently 75% of dwellings in his community are connected to gas grids. For Leiedal this grid has the potential for DHC as there are high density consumption areas but, in the past, they have been constrained by the availability of very few waste heat sources.  With the transition to 5th generation DHC, there is now a possibility to recover waste heat from a wastewater treatment plant via heat pumps in combination with geothermal storage. Planning is important to look for new development areas if we are to identify opportunities to install DHC networks.

Take away message

Unbundling of the energy market in past years now makes it more difficult for sector coupling and to have a new circular thinking.

New EED has an article on DHC: now it has to be translated in the NECPs. This is not the case yet. The new European Commission should pay attention to sector coupling. DHC is a solution for more integration in the energy system.

It is challenging for small local authorities to access EU funds.

"ERDF has a vital role to play for the 2021 to 2027 period to ensure that climate friendly sustainable investment in technologies like DHC are realised between the public and private sectors going forwards"

Paul Gatt, UDITE President

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