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Technology for district heating and cooling


Specific Challenge: District heating and cooling systems need to be more efficient, intelligent and cheaper. It is necessary to develop and deploy intelligent systems using smart metering and control solutions for optimisation and consumer empowerment and exploiting multiple energy resources, including waste heat recovery, heat pumps, thermal storage, cogeneration and renewable energy integration, and to roll-out solutions for the integration of intelligent thermal network with smart electricity grids.

Scope: Project proposals should address one or more of the following areas:

  • Develop, demonstrate and deploy a new generation of highly efficient, intelligent district heating and cooling systems which are capable of integrating multiple efficient generation sources, including different kinds of renewable energy, cogeneration, waste heat from industrial or other sources and storage, and which can be operated at different temperature levels. Such systems can be new schemes or refurbished and optimised existing DH systems. These systems might combine hybrid technologies and/or new thermal carrier fluids to improve the overall efficiency; help decrease the end user cost of transporting heating and cooling energy, be compatible and connected with intelligent electricity and gas networks; and utilize surplus electricity from the grid. Such systems should be compatible with and capable of integration with low-energy buildings, including nearly zero energy buildings (e.g. by means of low-temperature district heating).
  • Bring down heat distribution losses and integrate storage through the use of innovative pipe and capacity design, high performance insulation materials, reduced operating temperatures, intelligent, efficient system for fluid handling carriers or intelligent metering, control and grid optimisation strategies, including from analysing smart meter data, consumer interaction and behaviour.
  • Develop optimisation, control, metering, planning and modelling tools such as intelligent thermal agile controllers embedding self-learning algorithms which help to optimise the overall efficiency of technology-hybrid systems and IT supervision systems capable of delivering real-time performance indicators, which are likely to modify consumption behaviour.
  • Develop new solutions for low temperature heat recovery and recirculation.

The activities are expected to be implemented at TRL 4-6 (please see part G of the General Annexes).

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 1.5 and 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Innovative energy systems integrating the electricity grid and the heating/cooling grid (and possibly also energy storage), TRL 6-8, should be addressed in LCE7 and/or LCE8 (please see part G of the General Annexes).

Expected Impact:

  • Reduce the energy consumption of space and water heating by 30 to 50% compared to today's level.
  • Contribute to wider use of intelligent district heating and cooling systems and integration of renewables, waste and storage.

Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions