District energy can reduce infrastructure costs and environmental burdens

Date: 18 March 2013

District Energy Systems (DES) are increasing in popularity but their economic viability is usually analyzed narrowly in terms of capital costs and energy savings to the customer and revenues to the utility provider. Traditional feasibility analyses of District Energy Systems do not recognize the economic benefits to municipalities and regional governments. By having a DES, electricity demand during peak times can be reduced. A reduced demand means fewer electrical peaking stations will need to be built thereby saving regional governments substantial sums in infrastructure costs. Another noteworthy benefit is the cost of storm water retention.

DES is an enabler of storm water retention technologies. By using DES rather than a traditional rooftop mechanical room, space is made for water retention technologies that could not otherwise be built. By reducing the amount of water flowing from a building site, municipalities reduce the risk of sewer overflows and can reduce the infrastructure required for storm water containment. Lastly, a DES produces thermal energy on a large scale and is technology neutral. The nature of DES allows for fuel diversity and flexibility. Should the cost of any one type of fuel increase dramatically in price, DESs have the ability to switch sources with minimal investment. DESs will allow municipalities to ensure their communities will be able to maintain reasonable fuel costs and a high standard of living. None of these economic benefits are included in current feasibility analyses yet they can be substantial. If these factors were included, the economic case for DES would be made quite easily and communities could then benefit from the reduced carbon footprint for their heating and cooling. This makes a compelling case for municipalities to support DES in their communities or legislate building connections to District Energy System.

Source: FVB.com