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PLANNING IS KEY – and seek inspiration from others

by Linda Bertelsen
Podcast article for Hot Cool magazine - Planning is key...

The theme in this podcast is “Going Greener,” to discuss that, we have invited Hrvoje Klobucar from the Croatian city Karlovac and Johan Sølvhøj Heinesen from Egedal DH Company north of Copenhagen in Denmark. Both are managing directors of their DH companies, and both have long experience in our industry. The two gentlemen discuss the challenges with going green, converting from natural gas to DH (also an interpretation of going green), ownership, and how to attract more customers to the companies. In the last part of the podcast, you will get their advice on managing the green transition in the best possible way.

Meet the experts

Morten Jordt Duedahl
Moderator, DBDH
Hrvoje Klobucar
Karlovac DH managing director
Johan Sølvhøj Heinesen
Egedal DH managing director

The conclusion is

The situation in the two cities is quite different, and maybe also quite similar. The result is that we agree on what is essential for district heating companies to go green and remain competitive. 

The conclusion is to plan very well. Planning will keep your opportunities flexible, the prices as low as possible, and give access to several heat sources so one can optimally mix the heat supply, taking care of both costs and sustainability. A well-planned and well-constructed system will provide the DH company more options to use a different fuel mix dependent on the prices fluctuations for each of them and prioritize the green fuels. This approach can make your system more flexible from day to day and at the same time from decade to decade.

Also, we agree that seeking inspiration from others is the way forward. Hrvoje Klobucar seeks inspiration from Denmark. But one should seek that inspiration from everywhere possible. That is also what the Best Practice study survey (mentioned in this magazine) found through a pan-European study done with 8 DH companies.

Getting new customers

Winning customers is always a challenge due to a lack of knowledge of district heating and the perception that DH is too expensive. But bringing new customers on is also a part of going green, as you can convert them from a strict fossil heat source (natural gas) to something that is greener and has the option to develop even further in a green direction.  

Egedal Fjernvarme Forsyning
Egedal Fjernvarme Forsyning
Egedal Fjernvarme Forsyning

 In Egedal, they convince up to 70% of the potential customers in areas today served by gas to convert to district heating – well done! Here they do a lot of marketing to promote the offer through multiple channels – also Facebook – to reach out to as many customers as possible. 

Of course, today’s high gas prices play a positive role, but not as significant as one would expect; simplicity, sustainability, and easy comfort are also essential. 

It is also interesting to notice that the marketing done to convince customers is quite different in different areas, even in Denmark. The price is less critical in a more affluent area, whereas easiness and the renewable argument win over many people. Especially the easiness of getting connected, the option to pay a small amount every month instead of dealing with all the trouble of installing and maintaining your system (tasks that the DH company does not take over) is a winning argument. In the area where Johan is now managing director of the DH company, price is a bit more critical.

In Karlovac, they also aim to get new customers, but here the price is the main obstacle as natural gas prices, and the cost of other sources is meager, and therefore, it is hard to compete with them.

Ownership – always interesting

Hrvoje and Johan also touch upon the ownership models for the district heating companies they manage. In both cities, the municipality owns the DH company, and they both have significantly green agendas but listen in and hear what they have to say. 

Listen to Johan from Egedal DH company north of Copenhagen and Hrvoje from Karlovac, Croatia, discuss how to make district heating greener. This podcast is also an excellent opportunity to learn about the differences between district heating in Denmark and Croatia.

Facts about Karlovac, Croatia


river in Karlovac, CroatiaIt covers about 50% of the buildings in Karlovac and has approx. 7.800 customers. Today the production capacity is around 87 MW. In Karlovac, district heating is only on from fall to spring – eight months per year. Domestic hot water is heated differently, so district heating is only for heating. Further, the heating is only on from 5 in the morning to 10 at night. This situation puts a lot of strain on the pipe system. To become greener, we hope to change to more solar, geothermal, and of course, biomass. The way forward is to introduce more optimization activities, digitalization, and an extensive pipe network renovation.

Facts about Egedal, Denmark

Egedal has 800 customers that will soon multiply. 25 GWH primarily from renewable sources – woodchips, solar and heat pumps, and peak load from gas CHP.  In 6 years, Egedal hopes to have 120GWh and be 100% fossil-free. That means a lot of new customers. The majority will come from heat pumps and other new sources. Also, take a look at this recent video about Egedal District Heating – YouTube.