Collective heating and cooling enables flexible energy systems

The challenge
Heating and cooling of buildings is one of the most energy-intensive requirements worldwide. Across the globe, we see populated areas with temperatures of +50°C and other places with temperatures down to -40°C. Combined with the fact that more and more people are living in areas with high density, this creates a high demand for stable and efficient energy systems, which can provide the necessary heating or cooling when needed.

The solution
To deliver a stable and efficient system for heating and cooling of our commercial and residential buildings, it makes sense to centralise the individual systems in order for them to become collective district energy systems that supply multiple households and areas. District energy can both supply a stable temperature and at the same time, it is a key enabler for a more flexible energy system.

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Energy is in high demand. At the same time, the supply of many natural resources is low or unstable. This call for an energy system that is flexible integrates multiple energy technologies and that can be retrofitted for the needs of the future. District energy systems, providing heating and cooling, can be deployed in both warm and cold climates, making district energy a technology adaptable to many different climates globally. At the same time, district energy offers a way of utilising excess value in the form of heat or cooling by moving it from one area to another, where its potential can be exploited.

Multiple generations of district energy technologies have resulted in a system that provide heating  with minimal heat loss and cooling that potentially can replace energy-intensive air-conditioning modules seen in many warm climates. Although there is a high potential for district energy, it is only efficient when installed in areas with high population density. Accordingly, there is a need for an electrification of the energy sector in order to integrate decentralised individual solutions like heat pumps within the energy grid in areas with low population density.

By integrating flexible technologies in the energy system, it is possible to use largescale heat pumps as interlinks between surplus electricity and the heating system. By converting electricity into hot water, the heat pumps enable a wider and more efficient integration of multiple renewables, including  wind, biomass and solar. If the heated or chilled water is not used immediately in the district energy system, it can be stored in thermal energy storages and used in times of higher demand and lower supply.

The electricity conversion and storage benefits of the district energy system is a vital component of the future energy systems as it not only enable the integration of renewables, but also ensures a more stable, flexible and balanced energy supply. If we can store our renewable energy in water and use it for heating and cooling, we can also integrate a business model in the energy system by storing excess renewable energy and using and/or selling this same energy when there is a low supply.

Connect with us: Charlotte Gjedde, Project Manager, cmg@stateofgreen.com