Learning From European
Opportunities for district heating
Sabine Froning, Managing Director, Euroheat & Power
Energy drives our economies, guarantees our living standards and
secures our health. In the European
Union, just like elsewhere in the world, we
tend to take affordable energy for granted. And suddenly, while being on a daily
diet of growing energy consumption, we
are confronted with both soaring oil
prices and an unprecedented manmade
climate challenge due to the carbon
released from our energy-driven activities.
The International Energy Agency
(IEA) expects global primary energy consumption to increase by 55 percent
between 2005 and 2030. The peak of
global oil reserves is already in sight.
The Russia-Ukraine gas dispute at the
beginning of 2009 – the second within
two years’ time – has impressively
shown that energy dependence is a
major issue for the EU, which already
today imports more than half of the
energy it needs. At the same time, the
European energy balance clearly shows
that half the energy content of primary
fuels is lost in conversion and transformation processes before arriving as useful energy at the customers.
What policies can encourage the use
of district energy and combined heat
and power so these losses can be captured and leveraged for the sake of the
economy and the environment?
The Energy Challenge
The European Union needs solutions that make it possible to combine
sound economic growth with minimal
environmental impact and customer
convenience. Yesterday’s energy policy
debate was almost exclusively focused on
how to liberalize cross-border electricity
(and gas) markets and ensure fair compe-
tition. Today, there is emerging recognition that energy is not just electricity
and that energy end-use is dominated
by heat. Tomorrow’s energy must come
from a multitude of different sources,
and we’ll need to find much more efficient ways to produce and use it.
To prevent climate change, we must
considerably reduce our carbon foot-
District heating, market shares between 10 and 40%.
District heating, market shares over 40%.
Courtesy Euroheat & Power.
As one of the most effective tools to reduce Europe’s fossil fuel consumption, district heating should
be given a prominent role in local, national and European policy making. Ten countries have market
shares of more than 40 percent.