The district heating system in urban areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was a common way of heating over the last decades. Namely, most urban environments were dependent on heat from district heating systems. The endeavour was for society to show its organization in that domain, and for the engineers to show how it was possible to heat more efficiently and to be more environmentally friendly than with individual furnaces. It is safe to say that there was a tradition of using district heating systems to provide heating in cities. District heating systems can be divided into three groups:
District heating systems in urban areas;
District heating systems from thermal power plants – cogeneration; and
Local heating systems from a local factory.
Almost all district heating systems aim to expand the district heating network to maximize the use of available capacity.
Considering the type of fuel, Sarajevo and Zvornik are the only DHS using natural gas, these two cities are located on the natural gas pipeline route. Prijedor and Banja Luka were using fuel oil in heating plants, however, in 2015 and 2017, respectively, these two district heating systems switched to wood chips as the primary energy source, while fuel oil plants remained an alternative option. In 2018, fuel oil is still being used as a primary energy source only in heat power plants in Vogošća and East Sarajevo. Ultimately, most DHS in BiH use coal as their primary energy source (Travnik, Zavidovici, Doboj, Tesanj, Bijeljina, etc.). Some of them are looking into the possibility of switching to wood biomass – following the trend of switching from coal to biomass due to the environmental aspect on the one hand, and prices on the other, as the wood biomass market is gradually evolving, with costs of biomass often lower than coal costs.
In BiH, the heat supplied from DHSs is used exclusively for space heating and not for the warm water. The general problem with almost all SDGs built by the 1990s is over-dimensioning. The plants are designed for a much larger number of customers than they currently supply. In addition, the thermal needs calculation method was such that the system could heat the buildings adequately at extremely low outside temperatures. Since all systems only provide heat for space heating (not for domestic hot water – warm water heating), there is no operation during the summer.
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