Heat trading, a new concept in energy efficiency

Date: 7 January 2013

A heat trading simulation tool is being developed with the aim of creating an open market for heat trading, enabling consumers to save energy and contribute to helping the environment.
The EU-funded project IntUBE (´Intelligent Use of Buildings´ Energy Information´) is developing heat trading as just one element of a wider project that has funding of EUR 4 million. The project is being developed by CSTB, a technical specialist in the building sector, headquartered in France.
The project also has research partners from the north of Europe to the south, including Senior Research Scientist Mia Ala-Juusela, who is the project co-ordinator for IntUBE based at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. She says, ´The tool enables us to demonstrate and analyse various heat trading concepts within virtual district heating networks.´
Heat trading offers a number of potential advantages, as explained by Sten-Erik Björling, a researcher specialising in civil and environmental engineering solutions at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden. He says, ´Local generation may be more expensive, but you don´t have the risk that one or two major burst pipes could jeopardise supply and the distribution costs are somewhat lower. It could therefore make perfect sense to match fluctuations between commercial buildings, where heat demand is highest during the day, and residential schemes, where it´s higher in the mornings and evenings.´

This would benefit millions of EU citizens with locally produced heat, from solar collectors, biomass-fired boilers and micro-scale combined heat and power (CHP) plants.
The IntUBE project is also working on compliance with the EU´s aim of improving energy efficiency by 20 % before 2020. The renewal rate of buildings (replacement of existing buildings with new ones and renovation of existing buildings) is currently too slow to reach the EU´s objective. So IntUBE is working to increase the more efficient use of existing buildings by developing tools for measuring and analysing their energy profiles based on user comfort needs.
CSTB is also planning to develop a commercial tool, incorporating weather forecast data, which could enable district heat plant operators to plan on a day-to-day basis, whether it is more economical to produce heat centrally or buy it locally.

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