Skip to content


District energy

District heating

Fuel flexibility allows for sustainability in district heating

The key to intelligent use of energy.
1 April 2020

District energy allows for sustainability and flexibility. A vast variety of energy sources can be used, including fluctuating renewable energy and surplus heat.

A variety of energy sources

District heating is extremely flexible when it comes to the choice of heat source – it can accommodate all heat sources, even fluctuating ones such as wind, solar and surplus heat from industrial processes. In large district heating systems with several heat sources, district heating makes it possible to switch from one fuel source to another, dependent on local situations, price signals and green ambitions. Therefore, with a district heating system, one does not have to change all the small individual boilers in each house every time new fuel sources become viable and available. This can be done at a central location.

Integration of electrical and thermal energy systems

An increasing share of electricity is produced from fluctuating sources such as solar and wind. Interconnectors and electrical storage can cushion some of the fluctuations in supply, but are not sufficient and often do not represent the most economic and efficient choice. Integration of the electrical and thermal energy systems can be a part of the solution. If introducing electrical boilers and large industrial heat pumps in the production of heat for district heating networks, the networks will act as large energy storages. Surplus renewable electricity can be used in heat production when the electricity price drops due to overcapacity from wind turbines and photovoltaic solar panels.

District Energy front page

Download our publication on district energy

This article is part of our publication ‘District Energy’

Download now

Surplus heat

Surplus heating or cooling from e.g. industry is often wasted, but is a precious resource that can easily be utilised in a district heating or cooling system. Where industrial or commercial buildings are in close proximity to a thermal grid, it can be beneficial to collaborate with the local utility company in utilising the surplus heat. Not only is there a financial benefit, but surplus heat can also replace the use of fossil fuels in heat production.

Energy from waste

Waste is a resource that contains a vast potential. The more value a society can get out of its waste the better. Waste that cannot be reduced, reused or recycled, can be used for energy recovery. Modern waste-to-energy plants handle a waste problem and produce electricity and heat to nearby cities. The
best and most modern systems work with an energy efficiency close to 100 per cent through advanced technology. The impact of these plants on the local environment is minimal through advanced use of filters and other technologies to such an extent that they can even be located in the centre of large cities as is seen in Copenhagen, Denmark.

You should consider reading

District energy
District heating


District heating


District heating: A Swiss army knife in transforming future energy systems

30 October 2023
Explore how Denmark’s district heating system are used as a key tool in transforming the future energy system, paving the way towards reaching ambitious climate goals.


Energy efficiency in buildings


Explore Denmark's journey to decarbonise and energy optimise its buildings

21 June 2023
With a holistic approach, Denmark is on a journey towards decarbonising its buildings. Get an introduction to the green policies and energy-efficient cases that pave the way for greener building stock.