District heat optimization model

The large-scale heat networks – “trending”

Municipalities currently see large-scale heat networks with a high temperature (70 to 90 °C) as the solution to a fossil-free district. In any case, it is a clear solution, whereby you ensure that an entire area can be made non-dependent on natural gas in one fell swoop and where you do not have to persuade the residents to insulate their homes. Ideal. But as with many things, this seemingly “ideal” solution also has its downside. The degree of sustainability strongly depends on the heat source and costs are often disappointing for residents. For them, sustainable often also means expensive. Support for heat networks is therefore starting to decline, which is a pity, because heat networks can indeed be a very sustainable, reliable, and affordable solution, provided the solution is created in the right way.

Beneficial for the resident?

The exploration of the feasibility of heat networks is often based on the business case of the heat supplier. This means that it is calculated based on the financial return on investment to be achieved. Based on these results, the costs are then passed on to the residents in the form of a connection fee, fixed charge and heat price. The resident may then choose whether he / she wants to connect his house or not.

District heat optimization model

Not only the heat supplier, but also every resident has their own “business case” regarding fossil-free solutions. In addition to a heat network, a variety of other heat solutions are available. It depends on the residents’ considerations which is the most suitable. It often revolves around the solution with the lowest integral annual costs or investments. And sometimes for the lowest CO2 emissions. Our COLONY model makes calculations for each address in the district.

We are currently investigating whether it is economically and technically feasible to develop a district heat optimization model that can simultaneously calculate both the heat consumer side (residents) and the heat provider side (heat supplier / distribution). The model could thus provide answers to the question if a heat network is feasible for both the heat supplier and the residents and at what scale size and with what characteristics. The scale can be a district, neighbourhood, street or even for neighbours only; the properties are those of the most modern 5th generation heating networks.

Subsidized by RVO (Netherlands Enterprice Agency)

We are very pleased that this feasibility study has been found to be valuable by RVO.nl. and is supported with a subsidy through the SME Innovation Stimulation Region and Top Sectors (MIT). We are very busy with it! Do you have valuable input for us or are you interested in the progress of the research: we would very much like to hear from you!