Last week, almost 300 researchers and representatives from industry and organisations met to discuss the future of district heating and the energy system at the 2nd International Conference on Smart Energy Systems and 4th Generation District Heating.
Keynote speaker Paul Voss, Director of Euroheat & Power, focused on how district heating has changed its story during the last 5 years, partly thanks to the work of 4DH, Heat Roadmap Europe and other research led by the Energy Planning Research Group at Aalborg University.
“It’s nothing short of a revolution. We’ve been able to take our ideas and place them in the heads of EU officials, and now heat and district heating are finally on the EU agenda. This would not have been possible without a lot of people in this room,” said Paul Voss during his speech at the first day of the conference in Aalborg, Denmark.
This was backed up by Lily Riahi, Advisor on Sustainable Energy in Cities for United Nations Environment (UNEP), who started her speech by making it clear that a lot of the work they do in the District Energy in Cities (DES) initiative is based on the work of 4DH and Heat Roadmap Europe. DES is working with over 40 partners in 7 countries to strengthen the development of district energy networks all over the world.
Huge potential for DH in EU
At the conference, Coordinator of Heat Roadmap Europe David Connolly gave a speech about the achievements of the project so far. To sum it up, there is a huge potential for district heating in Europe, and cities with no district heating are often even more suitable for implementing the technology than cities that already have district heating.
“Currently 5500 TWh/year of heat goes to waste during electricity production in the EU. Heat is valuable, it can help decarbonise electricity – and it saves us money to use the heat in district heating systems. All of this is proven already and the technology exists. We just need to implement the district heating systems,” said David Connolly.
The conference also hosted the world premiere of the video “Smart Heating Europe”, where speaker Tore Duvold, Vice President at Innovation Fund Denmark, the main investor in 4DH, emphasised the impact of the 4DH Research Centre on the EU policy level and the high level of cooperation between universities and industry in 4DH.
The research on the future generation of district heating is even resonating in Japan – a country far from having district heating of any notable size. Nonetheless, the director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies in Tokyo, Tetsunari Iida, gave a speech on the big potential for district heating in Japan and the new Danish alliance on heat that is trying to expand district heating in Japan.