Efficiency in District Energy

© Islington Council for district energy District energy systems are among the most efficient ways to distribute electricity as well as heating and cooling (thermal) services, providing efficiency gains up to 80-90% relative to conventional separate generation of electricity and heat. By 2050, modern DES (District Heating and Cooling with Combined Heat and Power) could avoid over 35 GT of CO2 emissions at low cost, and deliver 58% of CO2 emission reductions required to keep the global rise in temperature to 2-3°C, while producing significant environmental and economic benefits. 

Effective District Energy System Policies

Energy Mapping and Infrastructure Planning is the starting point to assess district energy opportunities, establish economic and technical viability, develop tailored policies and business models, and inform an overarching district energy strategy. Energy and resource mapping can also be used to build public awareness and engage the stakeholder necessary for effective project implementation.

Policies that help create a market for DES include: benchmarking and disclosure requirements of building energy performance; incentives for energy efficient renovation and new construction; measures and standards that provide incentives for the electricity produced in district energy systems (e.g. CHP) with clear, consistent rules for connecting to the grid; priority dispatch; licensing exemptions for small scale generators; and policies that open energy markets to decentralized generators and internalize the public benefits of DES (FIT, net-metering, heat incentives).

City governments are an effective player, as they have regulatory authority over public procurement and land use, and often own or have stakes in local energy utilities. Through land-use policies, city governments can set: guidelines for urban development plans to consider district energy; service area bylaws that designate areas for district energy service providers; public and private rights-of-way and easements for district energy infrastructure installations; provide access to land, infrastructure, and waste streams; district energy connection mandates and compatibility requirements; development cost charges; and zoning to encourage high density and mixed use. Such land-use-related policies help aggregate, provide or guarantee minimum anchor loads for developments, and provide investor security and alleviate financial risks (customer retention/risk). City governments can also help by setting green building policies that allow developers to achieve requirements cost-effectively through connecting to DES; and by outlining local development strategies and climate action plans, harnessing DES potential for wide community development.

Download the flyer on District Energy Efficiency Accelerator here.

Photo credit: © Islington Council for district energy


16 JUNE 2019