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Expert: The explosion in the number of district heating customers creates a highway toward a CO2-neutral heating sector.

by Linda Bertelsen

A new calculation by the Danish District Heating Association shows the biggest increase in district heating customers in 30 years.

When roads and pavements are dug up to make way for district heating pipes, homeowners usually are more reluctant to wave goodbye to the gas or oil boiler. But since the energy crisis sent gas prices skyrocketing last year, natural gas customers are eager to be connected to the district heating network.

Four times as many chose to replace their existing heat source with district heating in 2022 compared to the previous year.
– This is a significant increase. We have not seen anything like this since the Danish government in 1990 introduced the obligation to connect to district heating to get rid of oil boilers, explains the director of the Danish District Heating Association, Kim Mortensen.

Many of their new customers came from areas where pipes had previously been laid and where, due to rising prices, the house owners suddenly want to be connected.

– Normally, we start digging when 60 percent in an area wish to connect. Last year, up to 95 percent had said yes, even before we even started digging, explains supply manager Jakob Rasmussen from Fjernvarme Fyn.

A green highway

– It is crucial for a project’s economy that the connection percentage is high. Kim Mortensen explains that when it is as high as it has been in 2022, it ultimately means that the price will be lower for customers. But it is also good for the rest of us when more gas and oil boilers are retired in favor of greener energy.

According to Kim Mortensen, the tremendous consumer demand has caused the municipalities to increase their district heating plans.
– When so many wish for district heating, it creates a highway towards a green transformation of the heating sector, assesses Brian Vad Mathiesen, professor of energy planning at Aalborg University.

District heating is more energy efficient and puts a considerably smaller burden on the environment than when each household is heated with its own heat source. District heating also makes it possible to use green energy sources and use surplus industry heat. It is, therefore, a green alternative to fossil fuels such as oil and gas.
– If the roll-out of district heating continues in this way, it may be possible to achieve a fossil-free heating sector within the foreseeable future, perhaps even before 2028, says Brian Vad Mathiesen.

Translated from DR.dk