What is a heat network?
A heat network, also known as district heating, is a network of pipes through which hot water flows. Pipes through the ground, from one or more heat sources to buildings. In fact, it is comparable to our gas network, water supply network, electricity network and fiber optic network.
Factories, power stations, data centers but also supermarkets, for example, generate a lot of residual heat. Much of this excess heat is currently being lost and is being discharged into the air or into the water unused. Fortunately, this heat can be reused via a heat network for heating houses and other buildings.
Heat network is a magic word. It is the solution for the heat transition: lay insulated pipes in the street and connect homes. No more generating hot water yourself to heat up, but using water that is already warm.
And that sounds good! Indeed, a heat grid could be a good replacement for an individual way of generating heat, let there be no misunderstanding about that. Collectively, you can do more than individually. Moreover, it is very sustainable if you can use fossil free residual heat for heating for homes, for example.
Our concern: heat network becomes a law
(New) heat companies have the ambition to fill entire neighborhoods, cities and areas with underground heat pipes. Municipalities and housing associations then commit to agreements to earn back the investments of a heat network. In the short term, these agreements often seem attractive, especially at high-temperature heat networks where homes do not or hardly need to be insulated. But the business case for the heat networks is often still thin, resulting in high connection costs for the residents and a maximum permitted heat price. Once connected, you will no longer easily switch to an alternative. Don’t let a heat network become a “heat law”!
Be well prepared
TheEarlybirds calculate a competitive heat price as a tipping point for connecting to a heat network or generating heat yourself. If the heat price offered is higher, you better generate the heat yourself in the next ten years, but if the supply is lower then you should consider connecting to the heat network. On the basis of financial grounds (and supplemented with corresponding CO2 savings) you can also create support for a heat network or set up conditions for heat prices to achieve a minimum number of connections. A new innovative model from TheEarlybirds even optimizes the entire design of a heat network based on these competitive heat prices. Both the supplier and the buyer are much wiser as a result.