District Energy holds a vast potential for energy efficiency in urban areas. This White Paper highlights the key elements for success in district heating and cooling. It covers aspects from regulation and planning, efficient production of thermal energy, to storage, distribution and end user solutions.

District energy

District energy is how value is created by supplying heating & cooling collectively instead of individually. Heat (or chilling) that has no – or very little – value in one place, becomes highly valuable by being transported to a place where it is needed. District energy is the system that takes care of this value creation. Heated or chilled water is used as a means of transportation. So in its simplicity, district energy is about moving water, with a valuable temperature, from the place of production to the place of consumption. The efficiency of the system is created in all three parts; creating heated or chilled water, avoiding heat loss in the distribution as well as effective connection and use on the consumer side.

District energy is feasible many places where there is a great need for heating or cooling, e.g. in industrial zones or densely populated areas. A big part of the initial investment in district energy is creating the infrastructure by laying pipes in the ground. Using high quality pre-insulated pipes ensures that this investment will last for decades and over time become a minor part of the total cost of running the district energy system. Proper installation, metering and heat regulation at the consumer end leads to hassle-free use and payment as well as a highly improved indoor climate for the consumer.

About this White Paper

This White Paper draws on competences built up through more than 100 years of experience with district energy in Denmark and around the world. It highlights some of the main learnings to consider when wanting to expand the use of district energy, such as the system, regulatory framework, planning, efficiency and flexibility of energy source, storage and future perspectives, by including relevant cases from around the world. Since a majority of the technology for district heating and district cooling is the same, we have chosen to predominantly use the term district heating, but similar solutions can easily be applied to district cooling instead.

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Ramboll is a leading multidisciplinary independent consultancy company Our 1,500 experts in energy provide our customers with cost-effective energy and climate solutions that meet today’s standards. We are among the leading consultants in the world within important energy, climate mitigation and climate adaption services: •Sustainable development of liveable cities •Least cost energy planning and strategies •District heating and cooling •Combined heat and power •Heat pumps •Waste to energy •Large scale solar water heating •Thermal storage tanks and storage pits •Wind farm infrastructure on and off shore •Power grids •Integrated smart energy system •Climate strategies •Waste management •Biogas •Exploration of oil and gas •Natural gas transmission and distribution •Natural gas storage Our multidisciplinary approach also includes other renewable sources, hydro power, geothermal energy, energy efficiency in building and industry and low energy buildings. Furthermore, Ramboll’s experts address global water and climate challenges by working across the water cycle from water resources and supply, processing and treatment, to sewerage and discharge. Working with municipalities, utilities, and industrial clients we draw on multidisciplinary expertise to create innovative, sustainable and liveable solutions for our customers and society. Our more than 700 water consultants – mainly engineers, hydraulic specialists, water consultants and landscape architects, but also economists, legal advisors and management consultants – work with water projects on a global scale with more than 50 years of proven experience. Discover more in this video about Ramboll's global water practice. To learn more about Urban Energy Solutions, see Rambolls blog

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