Big Growth in District Heating Markets: Now & On the Horizon

The market of district energy (DE), including district heating and district cooling, has witnessed large growth in many countries in Europe in the last five years – and also a significant growth in China.

The six European DE markets researched by BSRIA in 2018 have a District Heating and Cooling (DHC) total installed capacity of slightly under 250,000 MWth and China alone a 750,000 MWth: the seven researched countries are projected to grow by almost 5 per cent by 2030. Compared to district heating, district cooling will remain “rather small” in these markets.

The BSRIA District Energy study provides valuable insight for China, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia and the UK.

The main drivers are that construction players embrace DE for their competitive advantage and financial benefits: if there is sufficient demand and the projected income makes a project profitable, then the provider will take the necessary steps to create or upgrade a network.

Socrates Christidis, Research Manager – Heating & Renewables, BSRIA’s World Market Intelligence Division, said:

“Closely related to the progress of DE networks and the growing popularity of communal heating systems is the growth of central transfer stations and heat interface units.

Central transfer stations, also called heat substations, heavy duty stations or simply ‘substations’, are used to connect larger buildings or sub-networks to a heat network. They are usually located at the connection of the main heat network to large buildings.

HIUs (also called flat stations) extract heat from district heating networks to feed individual buildings and dwellings. How they perform is central to the overall efficiency of the heat network in a district heating scheme. Overall, there is healthy growth for HIUs on a pan-European basis of 6 – 7 per cent.”

BSRIA testing of HIUs

Socrates added:

“There is also an increasing number of companies offering energy metering and billing, maintenance and ongoing management of communal heating and hot water systems for apartments and communal housing schemes.

And, as in all areas of building services, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence are starting to be exploited by some players to create fully automated and self-learning systems; these will better predict energy requirements, eliminate energy peaks, optimize the indoor environment and offer predictive maintenance.”

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