What challenges lie ahead in the transition of conventional district heating systems and is district heating the future of urban heating in Europe? The vision of the development of Novi Sad Heating Plant, a regional leader by achieved performance indicators, can provide some of the answers.
Global district energy trends
District heating systems, developed mainly in eastern European countries, have been advertised over the past few years as the future of urban heating in Europe. We have been witnessing a speedy transition of conventional district heating systems into 4th generation district energy systems. The 4th generation of district heating (4GDH) is a coherent technological and institutional concept which uses smart heating networks to ensure the development of sustainable energy systems, and involves the integration of all available heat sources into a single network (waste heat from industry, heat from renewable energy sources, cogeneration, etc.) to supply heating and cooling energy to low-energy buildings, with low losses and high energy efficiency. With this technological transformation, which benefits both consumers and energy companies, we are moving towards intelligent urban district heating systems.
Danish school of district heating: a vision of development
Novi Sad’s district heating system has an extraordinary opportunity to transform into a modern district energy system in a sustainable way. For nearly 60 years, the development of this system has been strategic and planned, with the base source of heat energy at trigeneration (now cogeneration) facilities built outside the urban area, on the bank of the River Danube, strategically located peak heat sources (East-West-North-South), a balanced heat consumption capacity, thermal efficiency at 75%, a combined heating and sanitary hot water system, and other visionary solutions. The vision and strategy of the system’s development have been defined and presented at international and domestic expert conferences, where they have met with positive assessments, and can be described as the Danish school of district energy. The Novi Sad district heating system has a heat consumption capacity of 902 MW, 105,300 consumers, 690 MW of heat sources, 223 km of distribution network, and 3,000 heating substations.