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Open-source software to support low-carbon district energy network planning

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With an ambitious EU Green Deal on the table, providing secure, affordable and low carbon energy stays high on the priority list of local authorities to increase air quality and reach their energy and climate targets in 2030 and establish new ones by 2050. With heating and cooling (H&C) responsible for 50% of the final energy demand in Europe, decarbonisation of the sector will be crucial to reach those targets. According to the latest study on the 14 European countries with the highest H&C demands, district energy can play a leading role in the energy transition and for achieving an economically viable decarbonisation of the H&C sector in urban areas.


Within the EU-funded THERMOS project, eight European cities together with the Centre for Sustainable Energy in Bristol, as well as partners from research, private and public associations and the city network ICLEI Europe have developed an open-source online tool designed specifically to simplify and optimise complex network planning processes for local planning authorities. The THERMOS software is accessible via standard web browser.


With the aim of accelerating the deployment of energy-efficient, low-carbon district energy networks, the software is designed to make planning not only simpler but also more resource and budget efficient for local authorities. Having made the current beta version available on the website, project partners are now exploring test cases with external users taking part in the 2nd project training programme and presented the software at the 2019 UN Climate Conference in Madrid in December. Planners were provided with instant high-resolution address-level mapping and built-in energy demand estimations derived from user data or the software’s machine learning algorithms for four main scenarios: the optimised expansion of an existing system, the planning of an entirely new system, or for comparing and assessing the performance of a potential network with a scenario without a network.


In the coming months, the software´s interface will be further improved and will receive additional features based on user feedback and test cases from the training programmes.


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