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Renewable and Waste Heat Recovery for Competitive District Heating and Cooling Networks

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - REWARDHeat (Renewable and Waste Heat Recovery for Competitive District Heating and Cooling Networks)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-03-31

A huge amount of low-grade waste heat is diffused within the urban texture. The largest amount is rejected by air-conditioners, cooling systems in industrial processes and tertiary buildings.
The overall objective of REWARDHeat is to demonstrate a new generation of low-temperature district heating and cooling networks, which will be able to recover renewable and waste heat, available at low temperature. These networks will be able to increase production and distribution efficiency by recovering, renewable and waste heat available at low temperature.

By focusing on the exploitation of energy sources in urban environments, the replicability and upscaling potential of the decentralized solutions will be maximised. These solutions aim to promote a cost-efficient and technically viable decarbonisation of the European DHC sector.

The four main objectives of REWARDHeat are:
1. to integrate effectively multiple urban renewables and waste energy sources.
2. to develop innovative technologies for flexible use of heat in DHC networks.
3. to demonstrate digitalisation solutions allowing to optimise the management of the DHC network.
4. to develop business models and financial schemes to enable large public and private investments to be mobilized.
The overall project elaboration during the first monitoring period has been in line with the expectations.

With respect to the approaches and tools devoted to planning the integration of low-temperature heat in DHC networks, a Database incorporating best practice examples together with information on heat made available, reference temperature levels and technologies necessary to harvest it in the DHC network is under elaboration. This information will be combined with a Predesign Tool which will make this information available through a GIS-based interface. The tool will allow to use this information for a preliminary evaluation of DHC network pathway and main features.

Looking at the development of technologies suitable for integration of low-temperature heat in DHC networks, the first part of the project has been focused on the design of a prefabricated substation including heat pumps and storage tanks, suited to the bi-directional heat exchange with a network that is operated at variable supply temperature during days and seasons. At the same time, a new pipe technology adapted to low-temperature DHC networks has been prototyped and patented.

Beside the above technologies, solutions for the continuous control of the innovative networks are under elaboration. A SCADA system has been developed to be demonstrated during the second part of the project. In parallel a datamining platform is being elaborated which will be able to gather monitoring data from smart thermal-meters installed at customers’ substations, to analyse them online and to provide useful information to the network managers. Finally, different strategies to integrate smart control strategies for the continuous management of DHC networks are being evaluated.

Effort is placed on developing business models that are folding around the innovative approach of harvesting energy in the DHC network from sources diffused along its route. A PESTLE analysis has been carried out, which reports on the factors influencing the successful replication of using low-temperature waste heat and renewable energy sources in DHC networks.
At the same time, the demonstration activities are undergoing: the baseline assessment for the 8 demonstration sites has been completed, while the utility companies involved in the consortium have elaborated the plans for the construction phases.

A range of dissemination and communication activities have been conducted during the first reporting period, which results are published on the project website.
The REWARDHeat project will
• explore alternative configurations of a DHC network to elaborate planning schemes, pre-design tools and provide recommendations for the replication of the systems depending on their boundary conditions.
• demonstrate how prefabricated substations can facilitate the bi-directional heat exchange with the network, both from the technical and investment perspectives.
• develop a prefabricated pipe product specifically designed around the needs of low-temperature DHC networks.
• elaborate fault detection techniques and predictive control strategies to optimise heat fluxes management and thermal storage utilisation.
• develop a data mining software tool allowing to manage and analyse monitoring data from smart meters installed.
• devise business models adapted to selling “heat as a service” and financing support approaches folded around the new concepts of DHC network.
• develop a Business Game based on planning schemes and replication scenarios, focused on addressing authorities and professionals and helping them taking decisions when developing new DHC infrastructures.

REWARDHeat will demonstrate cost-effective solutions for DHC systems, which can satisfy at least 80% of the energy demand of the system with locally available renewable energy and waste heat sources.
This will permit to reduce Primary Energy consumed by around 23 GWh/y and to save 4.900 tons of CO2 emissions per year along with the elaboration of the project. At the same time, investments for around 30 M€ will be leveraged thanks to the REWARDHeat initiative (50% from H2020 funding).