What is District Heating & Cooling?

Growing populations cause an increasing the demand for energy, and people around the world are working on sustainable solutions and increasing energy efficiency. Two of the most effective ways of conserving energy are District Heating (DH) and District Heating and Cooling (DHC). Proven technology that has been around for decades, or even more than a century in some places. Most major cities and university campuses in the Western world have district heating systems. With the use of District Heating or District Heating & Cooling it is possible to heat and cool buildings, cities or even entire countries. DH and DHC systems are becoming increasingly more popular throughout the world. They already are  well-established energy-efficient temperature control systems in among others Sweden and the Netherlands.

How does District Heating & Cooling work?

District Heating and District Heating & Cooling consist of pipe networks that enable other technologies such as Combined Heat & Power (CHP) or Combined Cooling, Heat & Power (CCHP). District Heating makes use of a CHP system, where District Heating & Cooling makes us of a CCHP system.

In short, a central energy plant provides the heating and cooling to multiple buildings. The steam, hot water or chilled water produced by the plant is sent via underground pipes to the different buildings, where the energy is transferred to those buildings’ heating and air conditioning systems. Buildings and communities connected to a district energy system do not need to own or operate their own boilers and chillers.

What are the benefits of District Heating & Cooling?

When connected to a district energy system you can benefit from different aspects:

  • Buildings connected to a DH or DHC system are easier to run
  • When connected to a DH or DHC system a building has lower life-cycle costs and can reduce fuel and energy costs
  • It can reduce or even eliminate on-site emissions

District energy meets the heating and cooling demands of dozens or even hundreds of buildings and creates opportunities, where the scale of the community permits, to use lower carbon energy sources. District energy plants can run on different fuels, giving them the flexibility to switch to less expensive ones as market conditions change.

As previously stated, a district energy system can incorporate the highly efficient Combined Heat & Power and Combined Cooling, Heat & Power technologies. These technologies can significantly increase the efficiency of a power plant. CHP captures the waste heat created when generating electricity and puts it to use to heat buildings or drive chillers. This reduces overall fuel consumption and lowers emissions. CCHP not only generates electricity and heat but can also provide in cooling.