Home Uncategorized Full decarbonisation of heating and cooling is cost-effective with existing technologies, says EU research

Full decarbonisation of heating and cooling is cost-effective with existing technologies, says EU research

by Kathrine

Heat Roadmap Europe (HRE4), an EU-funded research initiative, proves that the heating and cooling sector can be fully decarbonised based on technologies and approaches which already exist, are market-ready and have successfully been implemented in Europe.

The project developed energy scenarios for 2050, also known as “Heat Roadmaps” for the 14 largest EU countries that represent 90% of EU’s heat demand. The roadmaps model the entire energy system hour-by-hour including transport and focuses on the heating and cooling sector. The heating sector helps the integration of renewable energy in the electricity sector using district heating and large thermal storages, while increasing the ambition with regards to end demand savings in buildings.

Three 2050 scenarios for each one of the 14 countries have been produced:

  • the Baseline (BL) 2050 scenario, based on JRC-EU-TIMES modelling, which represents the development of the energy system under currently agreed policies in the EU;
  • the Conventionally Decarbonised (CD) 2050 scenario, which represents the development of the energy system under a framework that encourages renewables, but does not radically change the heating and cooling sector; and
  • the HRE 2050 scenario, which represents a redesigned heating and cooling system, considering the cost-effectiveness of different types of energy efficiency, excess heat and renewable sources as well as better integration with the other energy sectors.

The latter two, and in particular the HRE 2050 scenario, prove that re-designed and sector-integrated heating and cooling solutions can significantly improve the cost-effectiveness and thus the economical and social acceptance of the energy transition and more ambitious low-carbon actions.

The findings are especially noteworthy, given the current preparations for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Katowice, Poland, 2-14 December 2018. As reiterated in the IPCC global warming report released last month, limiting global warming is an urgent global challenge. The HRE findings are an ideal opportunity to prioritise energy shifts and research in Europe to address this challenge. The scenarios show that is possible to reduce CO2 emissions, while saving money compared to a silo approach to decarbonising the thermal sector. Fossil fuels can be reduced by about 10 PWh compared to 2015 and CO2 emissions by 86% compared to 1990, which substantially lowers the need for importing fossil fuels to the EU at a scale of 90% for oil, 69% for natural gas and 42% for coal.

Brian Vad Mathiesen, Heat Roadmap Europe coordinator, says that the scenarios are a wake-up call: “Not enough has happened to decarbonise heating and cooling in Europe. The findings of Heat Roadmap Europe 4 prove that a low-carbon, cost-effective and feasible future is possible with existing technologies available on the market today. It would be an ethical, political and organisational failure, if public authorities together with the private sector don’t make a coordinated effort to ensure thermal infrastructure change in Europe – to keep global warming significantly below 2°C compared to the pre-industrial area.”

The publicly accessible Heat Roadmaps, along with the heating and cooling profiles per country are key resources and tools for the lead-users (all level policy-makers and energy agencies, energy technology manufacturers or energy intensive industries, researchers and NGOs), in order to actively accelerate decarbonisation efforts. Typical fields of application include regulatory changes for enabling policies, energy market boost, integrated heat planning incentives, exploitation of energy savings potentials and energy synergies potentials. “The scenarios illustrate that an increased focus on end demand savings in buildings and industry as well as on district heating, the elimination of natural gas in individual buildings, not only brings huge environmental benefits, but plays a geopolitical role in terms of security of energy supply in EU,” adds Vad Mathiesen.

The scenarios are the perfect basis for European governments, businesses, consultants, academics, and planners to make informed decisions about investments in energy efficiency measures and use of untapped sustainable energy sources for heating and cooling. They will also support the implementation of European climate commitments, ensure wiser investment of public money, reduce costs for consumers, and cut carbon emissions and energy consumption.


The Heat Roadmaps have been designed and analysed using the knowledge, data, and methodologies that have been developed, improved, and updated in the Heat Roadmap Europe project, and were authored by project partner Sustainable Energy Planning Research Group, Aalborg University.

The Heat Roadmap Europe 4 project maps and models the H&C and holistic energy systems of the 14 largest users of heat in the EU to develop new policies at local, national and EU levels to ensure the uptake of efficient, sustainable and cost-effective H&C solutions.

Source: Euroheat & Power