3 December 2018
EU project proves decarbonisation of heating and cooling to be cost-effective with existing technologies
Is it really worthwhile to aim at low-carbon heating and cooling systems? Is it possible to achieve this with existing technologies? Those questions were answered on the basis of solid data by the soon-to end EU-funded Heat Roadmap Europe 4 (HRE4) project, in which the two KeepWarm partners ICLEI Europe and the University of Zagreb FSB are also involved.
HRE4 is a research initiative led by Aalborg University in Denmark. It developed low-carbon heating and cooling strategies, also known as Heat Roadmaps, for the 14 largest EU countries (inlcuding its strongest overlaps with KeepWarm target countries Austria and the Czech Republic, though many results are also available/applicable to other countries). In this framework, entire energy systems were modelled hour-by-hour to allow for their better understanding, with a solid focus being laid onto the heating and cooling sector.
The HRE 2050 scenarios prove that re-designed and sector-integrated heating and cooling solutions can significantly improve the cost-effectiveness, and thus the economic and social acceptance, of Europe’s energy transition and more ambitious low-carbon actions. These scenarios show that it is possible to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions while saving money. The use of fossil fuels can be reduced by about 10 PWh compared to 2015 and CO2 emissions by 86% compared to 1990. This substantially lowers the need for importing fossil fuels to the EU at a scale of 90% less oil, 69% less natural gas and 42% less coal.
Key outputs of the project reveal the following:
Some key results from the Heat Roadmap for Austria:
- End-user savings, or more specifically higher building-renovation rates and depths, are needed to reduce heat demand through 31% savings (the current level of ambition is 22% by 2050).
- Thermal infrastructure expansion is crucial to redesign the energy system and enable better integration of renewable energy and excess-heat sources, from around 24% of heating for the built environment (excluding industrial facilities) today to at least 39% of heating in 2050 (from an economic perspective the market share could actually rise up to 54%).
- Excess-heat utilisation and heat from power production should cover at least 24% of the district heat production and requires a concerted change in planning practices for local industries, waste incineration, future fuel production sites and potentially also data centres, sewage treatment facilities, underground metro stations and other types of less conventional excess-heat.
Similarly, key results are also available from the Heat Roadmap for the Czech Republic:
- End-user savings, in particular for space heating in existing buildings, require higher renovation rates and depths to reduce heat demand through 41% savings (the current level of ambition is 22% by 2050).
- Thermal grid expansion is crucial to redesign the energy system and enable better integration of renewable energy and excess-heat sources from around 23% of heating for the built environment (excluding industrial facilities) today to at least 60% of the heating market in 2050 (from an economic perspective the market share could actually be at levels between 34% and 68%).
- Excess-heat recovery from industry and heat from power is critical to achieve an efficient and resilient heating and cooling sector, and has the potential to support local industry, economy and employment. This should cover at least 26% of the district heating production and requires a concerted change in planning practices for local industries, waste incineration, future fuel production sites and potentially also data centres, sewage treatment facilities, underground metro stations and other types of less conventional excess heat.
The Heat Roadmaps that were developed within the HRE4 project are public documents free to use by anyone, along with the related heating and cooling profiles per country. They are key resources and tools for the many stakeholders, such as governments at all levels, utilities, urban (energy) planners, investors, businesses, academia, to make informed decisions about investments in existing district heating systems and the use of untapped sustainable energy sources for heating and cooling. They will also support the implementation of local to European climate commitments, ensure wiser investment of public money, reduce costs for consumers and cut carbon emissions and energy consumption.
The project's findings and useful resources it developed will be taken into account by KeepWarm partners when planning their own district heating systems and broader energy transitions.
Map Heat Roadmap Europe project (HRE4)