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METIS Studies: Cost-efficient district heating development

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In 2012, district heating covered 9% of the EU’s heat demand. Nearly 70% of all energy used for district heat generation were gas and coal.


However, district heating allows to decarbonise heat generation via the integration of renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar), the utilisation of high-efficient heat generation plants (heat pumps, combined heat and power) and the exploitation of waste heat and renewable surplus electricity.


Between 2012 and 2015, the use of biomass in European heat networks went up from 16 to 20%. Over the same period, heat generation from solar heating and centralised heat pumps grew by 50%.

METIS is a mathematical model providing analysis of the European energy system.


It simulates the operation of energy systems and markets on an hourly basis over a year, while factoring in uncertainties like weather variations. In order to determine the potential contribution of district heating networks to the reduction of energy demand and emissions, the district heat dimension is added to the METIS model.


This study explains the extension of the METIS tool, outlines the underlying information used for model development and scenario generation and demonstrates the functionalities of the new METIS heat module.

At the beginning, the study presents the outcomes of a literature survey.


An overview of the large-scale heating technologies lists their major techno-economic parameters (e.g. technical configuration, cost data, efficiencies, typical operation modes and aspects of district heating network integration).


The survey further sheds light on the current situation of heat demand and district heating penetration across the different EU member states. A separate chapter is dedicated to the description of the configuration of individual networks and their evolution over time.


This includes the description of examples of selected networks from different countries.


To illustrate the benefits of the newly added functionality of the METIS heat module, a case study is realised for the given scenario demonstrating the use of the key performance indicators and the facilities to exploit the scenario.


A sensitivity assessment reveals the impact of a shift towards more heat pumps in residential district heating networks on future energy demand, CO2 emissions and heat production costs.