Heating for the Future: Identifying Global Hotspots for District Energy

June 23, 2014 | State of the Market Report

Buildings consume nearly 40% of global primary enegy, of which about 40% is used to heat, cool, and condition the indoor built environment. Traditionally buildings are fuelled by petroleum, natural gas, electricity, and even coal, but an opportunity exists to decouple the energy source from the building, through district heating and cooling (DHC) networks. Fuel agnostic, these networks can leverage multiple fuels, achieve higher converstion efficiencies, and provide a more reliable supply of heating and cooling. DHC has been around for decades, but only deployed at scale in China and Northern Europe. In this report, we identify six proven alternative heat generation methods for district heating, and evaluate their economic viability for across the continental U.S., EU-27, and East Asia. Performance is measured in total cost of operation, and the focus is on commercial, residential, and multi-residential buildings. Among the high-potential regions are the Northeastern U.S., Spain, and Poland, as well as South Korea and several Japanese cities.

Coverage Area

  • Owning the Energy Transition

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Landscape
    China leads in scale of district energy development, while Europe leads in efficiency of energy conversion; but alternative technologies enable greater efficiency and lower carbon output.
  • Analysis
    District heating emerges as a winner, with cost reductions as high as 74% compared with distributed heating, but most attractive technologies differ depending on climate and fuel.
  • Outlook
  • Endnotes

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