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by Linda Bertelsen
The Global District Energy Climate Awards 2023

The Global District Energy Climate Awards is an international initiative coordinated by Euroheat & Power assisted by the IEA DHC and with the support of the UN Environment Programme, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International District Energy Association (IDEA) and the Asian Pacific Urban Energy Association (APUEA).

By Dr. Robin Wiltshire, Chair, GDECA and Chair, International Energy Agency Technology Collaboration Programme on District Heating & Cooling (IEA DHC)

Published in Hot Cool, edition no. 8/2023 | ISSN 0904 9681 |


It is always a great pleasure to be involved with the Global District Energy Climate Awards (GDECA). I speak here not only for myself but also for the other members of the panel. Members of the panel convene biennially to judge the new submissions. The panel comprises experts with breadth and depth of experience over many years in technical consultancy, financial, and managerial roles.
Why, you may ask, do we find ourselves waiting with bated breath for the new group of submissions? The answer is simple: across the world, innovative people and supportive municipalities are conceiving and delivering new and exciting ideas for district energy! And we hope that these examples will also inspire others to act!

We notice particularly the versatility of this technology that can be applied in so many case-specific circumstances – the range of building types, climate, and, crucially, its ability to make use of a vast range of heat sources. This flexibility enables heat networks to spearhead the penetration of renewable heat sources and is the only way to effectively recycle locally available ‘waste’ heat at scale. We have also noticed the increasing importance and presence of district cooling.

The very fact that individual systems are so case-specific means that it is not easy to bring these successes to the attention of a wide audience and, crucially, to decision-makers. It is our mission to reveal these successes. The Global Awards are an excellent way to demonstrate the possible achievements and diversity of approaches. Winners benefit from recognition at the Awards Ceremony and beyond, with their submission receiving international media attention and ongoing presence on the GDECA website, and local prominence is raised through a letter to community dignitaries. Applicants can enter a system into one of six categories.

These are intended to cater to countries with mature district heating markets and countries where the market is still being established. There is also a category for countries with developing economies. Brand new systems have their own category, as do systems that are being modernised and extended and those which demonstrate increasing synergies between thermal energy systems and electricity systems (i.e., sector coupling).

The panel assesses each submission across a range of criteria. Applicants must highlight the Why? the How? and the What? for the system they are entering. These aspects embrace, respectively, clean energy transition and community benefits, how technical and financial aspects have been tackled, and greenhouse gas reductions. Future sustainability, innovation, and replicability potential are key elements, a testament to the vital role that heat networks can play.

But now, having explained why we engage in this process, how about some of the specific systems that have applied and won? Here, I would encourage you, when you have a spare moment or two, to turn to our website and see for yourself!
Winners | Global District Energy Climate Awards (districtenergyaward.org)

The task of identifying the winners is always difficult because so many submissions have achieved great things, but only the winners secure an Award! For that reason, we decided to also issue Certificates of Merit to applicants who were missing out by a hair’s breadth.

You would not expect me to reveal the winners of the latest edition of the Global Awards. That is the purpose of the ceremony that will be taking place on 14 November in Brussels as part of the Euroheat & Power Summit. Suffice to say that the range and quality of submissions this time fully lived up to the predecessors from earlier rounds. Once more, difficult decisions were made, but I can confidently say that we once again have a truly impressive set of winners. Maybe you will have been with us in Brussels for the ceremony itself, but if not, please do look at our website to find out!

Finally, please consider joining in with your own submission to the next edition. In this industry, there are so many innovative examples of new initiatives and modernisation of existing systems that the world needs to know about! So please watch out for announcements! You can stay up to date and receive the latest information by subscribing at the website.

Meet the author

Dr. Robin Wiltshire
Chair, GDECA and Chair, International Energy Agency Technology Collaboration Programme on District Heating & Cooling (IEA DHC)
“The Awards” was published in Hot Cool, edition no. 8/2023. You can download the article here:
The Awards, by Dr. Robin Wiltshire