District energy is a quick-growing industry globally, supported by the aggressive climate objectives set by the global economies. Based on initial assessments, these district heating and cooling companies have been recognized as operations that could produce more extraordinary growth and value potential with an alternative holding structure.
By including electrically powered heat pumps in the district heating supply, higher renewable energy levels can be used for thermal purposes, generating integration and balance between energy systems. With a burgeoning wind turbine capacity globally, big heat pumps will play a meaningful role in the sustained global green energy development as well as in the hunt to phase out fossil fuels by 2050.
- The district heating provides a method of delivering thermal energy to buildings (homes and commercial space) in the form of hot water through a distribution network of highly insulated pipelines. Whereas, the potential for increased use of industrial district heating is limited. This is so because conversions of industrial processes to district heating involves varying heat loads amongst types of industries and processes.
- However, the conversion to district heating serves as an 11% reduction in the use of electricity, a 40% reduction in the use of fossil fuels along with total energy end-use saving of 6% among industries.
- By converting the industrial processes, it has led to a potential reduction of global carbon dioxide emissions by 112,000 tons per year. However, the residential and commercial markets are expected to hold a significant share of the market.
- For instance, in February 2020, six district heating projects using wood chips are expected to be operational at public buildings in Nova Scotia by November 2020. The Government recently pre-qualified companies to design, build, and operate systems that use wood chips from private woodlots. As per Deputy Minister of Lands, 100 public buildings have been identified for conversion to district heating under this program.
- With Machine Learning, the idea is to predict heat loads from customer data and operational data along with weather forecasts, national holidays, weekdays, etc. to optimize and plan the heat production, thereby lowering heat loss and handling peak loads. The potential is extended to use intelligent algorithms in fault detection, such as to identify leakages, inefficient heating systems, or errors stemming from failure related to single components.
- In October 2019, the smart district heating service of Tampere Power Utility was developed by Enermax Oy to balance peak district heating outputs, optimize heating in buildings, and reduce heating costs. The deployment was able to cut down energy consumption by 5% to 10%.
- In response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, International District Energy Association (IDEA) has convened a Working Group to help its members and other affected individuals to get essential resources and information required to help and navigate in this unprecedented event. However, most of the district heating projects are on hold due to the scarcity of workforce and countrywide lockdown. Moreover, European companies like Statkraft are carefully prioritizing resources to safeguard the plants' safe and stable district heating operation.
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Key Market Trends
Natural Gas-powered District Heating Systems to Hold the Largest Market Share
- As the trend towards power generation has shifted away from fossil fuels, principally considering the environmental determinants, the natural gas has gradually taken a healthy percent of market share in the district heating market worldwide. The numerous benefits of natural gas like cheaper costs and fewer carbon emissions with exceptional efficiency have encouraged the growth of this segment. Also, growing exploration activities in each region for natural gas is another determinant of the growing selection of these systems.
- The non-conventional sources of energy like solar and wind have also got pace in recent years. There has been a transformation toward solar energy in several countries. But as the district heat network helps a considerable number of people and renewables being a new player in the field have a weak market share as opposed to natural gas.
- In terms of established and installed capacity, the district heat generated using natural gas is higher than the district heat produced utilizing renewables. But the revenue produced by applying renewables is leading as compared to natural gas due to the massive cost of renewables. This trend is set to stay with the share for the renewables to grow at a steady rate.
Europe Holds a Significant Share in the District Heating Market
- District heating systems utilize and distribute heat from many sources, which are traditionally seen as a by-product and go to waste. Waste heat from electricity production, forestry residuals, and other renewable energy sources, municipal waste, to name a few. Additionally, estimations reveal that heat going to waste from electricity production and large industries in Europe is substantial to meet all of Europeâ€™s heating demands.
- Moreover, Aarhus, Denmark, represents a fast-growing city with a consistent increase in residents. The AffaldVarme Aarhus operated as a district heating supply for the city and announced its focus on saving energy. The company targeted the reduction of its energy consumption.
- Germany is considered to be one of the largest markets utilizing district heating systems. Back in 2018, nearly 14% of households were connected to a district heating system in Germany. Whereas, Hamburg stood out with its district heating network supplying 19% of all households. This figure is expected to rise by 2020 by adding 50,000 homes to the district heating network, as per Fluid Flow.
- Furthermore, in October 2019, the Sweden-Ukraine District Heating Program (SUDH), managed by NEFCO, was launched in Kyiv. It is directed at financing and supporting environmentally sustainable, energy-efficient district heating investment projects all over Ukraine. Sweden supports the program with a provision of grants for co-financing investments and technical assistance. These factors will drive the growth of the European region in the coming years.
The district heating market is moderately competitive in nature and consists of a significant number of global and regional players. These players are focusing on expanding their customer base across the globe. These vendors are focusing on the research and development investment in introducing new solutions, strategic alliances, and other organic & inorganic growth strategies to earn a competitive edge over the forecast period.
- February 2020 -- Vattenfall and the Deutsche Telekom subsidiary Power & Air Solutions signed an energy supply contract (Corporate Power Purchase Agreement, CPPA) based on solar power with a term of ten years. The renewable electricity comes from a new solar park, which will be built by the customer in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in mid-2021. The plant will have an installed capacity of 60 megawatts (MW).
- February 2020 -- ENGIE Africa and its subsidiary AUSAR Energy launched the construction of 8 hybrid solar power plants at remote sites in the Northwest, in partnership with the Caisse des DÃ©pÃ´ts et Consignation du Gabon. Itâ€™s a major pilot project to give energy access to isolated villages and help the environment.
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