Urban Heating in
Key problems and remedies
Astghine Pasoyan, Senior Program Manager for CEE & CIS, Alliance to Save Energy
Era of Reform
Under the former economic system
in CEE and the CIS, district heating com-
panies were state-owned and centralized.
Dozens of large district heating companies
operating hundreds of heat sources and
district heating networks existed in dif-
ferent cities. Heating tariffs were set by
the government, with subsidies often
comprising more than half of the tariffs,
already set below cost-recovery level.
Consequently, those companies continually
lacked funds for operations and mainte-
nance, retrofits and quality assurance.
Over time, the pressure for change and
better service quality and reliability created
Figure 1. Share of District Heating in Providing National Heat Demand in Selected CEE and CIS Countries.
Macedonia FYR Slovenia
Serbia Hungary Bulgaria
Romania Czech Republic
Bosnia/Herzegovina Slovakia Moldova
Poland Estonia Lithuania
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Percentage of National Heat Demand Provided by District Heating
District Energy / Third Quarter 2009
In much of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) that com-
prise Russia and former Soviet republics,
district heating systems play a predomi-
nant role in the urban heating sector. As
the economies in these countries make the
transition from central planning to the
free market, they have inherited old, over-
sized district heating systems, which
serve roughly 250 million people (fig. 1).
While district heating technology is
generally a good fit in these countries,
with their high-density urban populations,
the industry in many places is character-
ized by significant problems. The large
boilers in these central heating plants
should be able to generate economies of
scale. Due to underinvestment in equip-
ment and renovations, however, up to
one-half of their energy is wasted. Coun-
tries in the region spend billions of dollars
annually on emergency repairs to their
district heating systems due to poor
routine operation and maintenance.
Remedies do exist, however, for
improving the state of the district heating
industry in the region. Some countries
have had more success than others in
reform, particularly in CEE. Analyzing and
learning from their experience can help
countries that have made less progress
chart their way forward.
© 2009 International District Energy Association. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Source: Compiled by Astghine Pasoyan, Alliance to Save Energy.