Home Articles DISTRICT HEATING IS THE GREEN TRANSITION CORNERSTONE.

DISTRICT HEATING IS THE GREEN TRANSITION CORNERSTONE.

by Linda Bertelsen
Hirtshals Lighthouse, Hjørring Municipality

In the heart of Hjoerring, a strategic approach is reshaping the landscape of district heating through innovative, locally sourced renewable energy production.

Gone are the days of conventional heating methods, as the municipality embraces a dynamic mix of resources that includes a waste-to-energy plant, wood pellets, wood chips, wind, and solar parks, as well as the integration of heat pumps and electric boilers.

Furthermore, surplus heat from local industries, like biogas and hydrogen production, mechanization, pyrolysis, and refrigerated warehouses, forms a crucial component of this sustainable ecosystem.

New heat sources over the next two years

As we gaze into the near future, a wave of electrification is set to surge through the district heating sector. One notable example is a district heating company’s ambitious plans to establish its own wind and smaller solar parks. Anticipated over the next two years is a substantial growth in the utilization of surplus heat from local industries, forming the backbone of the region’s energy resources.

The strategic mindset driving this green transition in Hjoerring is encapsulated in five fundamental principles:

  1. Identification and optimization of local energy resources.
  2. A commitment to achieving 100% renewable energy through local resources.
  3. Stimulating local job creation.
  4. Shielding against international energy crises.
  5. Fostering symbiosis, where the synergy between elements equals more than the sum of their parts.

These principles are not just lofty ideals; they translate into tangible benefits for the municipality. Cheaper heat, improved economic viability for companies, a coveted green label, and the creation of new job opportunities are the dividends of this strategic approach.

The Ukrainian crisis served as a catalyst.

The urgency of this transition was underscored by the war in Ukraine, which triggered a surge in natural gas prices across Europe. This crisis served as a catalyst, propelling Hjoerring to center stage as a pioneer in local energy production and surplus heat utilization. Today, these elements are pivotal tools in the overall development of the municipality.

Energy Plan 2.0 – the path to sustainable growth

At the heart of this transformative journey is a strategic plan known as “Energy plan 2.0.” As we look to the future, the municipality is gearing up for the next level. Engaging in dialogues with local politicians, businesses, energy producers, and district heating companies, the focus is on connecting the district heating grids among different companies.

The objective is to ensure that these companies consistently tap into the most cost-effective energy sources. However, challenges loom, particularly in navigating the economic intricacies and organizational complexities involving 11 independent district heating companies. The hope is that the allure of cheaper green energy will serve as a catalyst for establishing these interconnected grids.

Local ambassadors and a practical roadmap

Beyond the city center, the municipality actively converts villages from individual gas-heated houses to district heating. This transition begins with a strategic dialogue between the municipality and local district heating companies.

The subsequent steps involve rallying a group of local ambassadors within the village, crafting a practical roadmap, conducting citizen meetings, and launching campaigns to inspire and motivate. The collaborative effort includes representatives from the municipality, district heating companies, local ambassadors, banks, and real estate agents.

In the evolving narrative of Hjoerring’s energy landscape, the shift towards local, renewable, and surplus heat-driven district heating is not just a strategy—it’s a beacon lighting the way toward a greener, more sustainable future.

Member Company Profile - Hjoerring Municipality_
FACT BOX 1

Hjoerring Municipality at a snapshot

  • Location: Northern part of Jutland, Denmark
  • Characteristics: Rural area with a few towns and numerous smaller villages
  • Population: 62,000 citizens, predominantly residing in single houses
  • Heating profile: 67% of households heated by district heating
FACT BOX 2

District heating landscape

  • Number of district heating companies: 11
  • Ownership: All companies are citizen-owned and organized with boards
  • Economic principle: Operate under the Danish principle of “self-balancing,” prohibiting negative or positive annual accounts
  • Transition to renewable energy: Currently undergoing a transformation from conventional to renewable energy sources
  • Timeline for transformation: Expected completion within the next 2-3 years
District heating is the green transition cornerstone” was published in Hot Cool, edition no. 1/2024. You can download the article here: