When the weather turns cold, households and businesses seek to heat their premises. The reverse is true in summer. Being able to map these demands is very important for municipal energy planning. In addition, it is equally important to map the supply. Heat, particularly in the form of hot water, can be transported only over certain distances. By mapping supply and demand together, planners can ensure that these balance. Doing so makes the sector’s use of resources and infrastructure more efficient. The mapping process requires considerable quantities of data, plus tools for analysis. Some regions have little data and no tools. Others have data but not the tools. In both cases, the EU-funded HotMaps project can help. “We provide data alone, or data plus analysis tools, to European municipal regions for the mapping of heating and cooling needs,” explains project coordinator Lukas Kranzl. The project developed a set of open-source tools, created a default data set and tested both in the form of a friendly software package.
Planning and management simplified
The software toolbox is freely available online. It directly assists public authorities in the mapping of heating and cooling and supports researchers in the study of this field. The toolbox graphically illustrates the spatial dimension to all such supplies and demands. For example, the software can help users decide where district heating would be most efficiently applied. Apart from mapping functions, the software includes several calculation modules. Project researchers converted them to open-source and integrated them with the larger software package. Such modules help researchers to evaluate various energy demand scenarios. The analysis modules also aid the assessment of various heat sources, and they facilitate the identification of optimal use of heat supply capabilities in a given area. HotMaps additionally supports discussions with stakeholders, since its results can be easily revised and shared.
Multiple uses and good reception
“A typical use case,” adds Kranzl, “would be where a municipality wants to develop a strategy for decarbonising the heating and cooling sector. Using HotMaps, the energy planner may use the default data, or enrich it with their own more detailed data, to develop decarbonisation scenarios for the lowest cost.” The mapping software shows the mix of supplies and demands for district heating, including individual heating solutions, various renewable energy options, and/or sources of industrial waste heat. A set of similar use cases has been demonstrated in six pilot areas across Europe, each having different energy profiles. Apart from the software tool itself, researchers developed documentation that supports users in applying the toolbox and its various modules. They have also produced a set of online training manuals. Several European cities and energy agencies have expressed interest in using the software. It could also be tailored for other regions worldwide. The HotMaps tools will make planning for local and regional energy needs more efficient. This will help make heating cheaper while also supporting decarbonisation.
HotMaps, energy, mapping, heating, software tool, cooling, district heating, decarbonisation, energy demand