There has been no expansion of District Heating in the last fifteen years in Croatia and there is a considerable need for refurbishment of existing networks to increase customer confidence, energy efficiency and profitability.
The fuels used for District Heating in Croatia are natural gas, oil and petroleum products (light heating oil and fuel oil), renewables and heat pumps which are used both in cogeneration plants and local boiler plants. In the past ten years, the percentage of each fuel used has fluctuated from year to year. However, the percentage of natural gas used to generate District Heating in the last decade has generally risen while the percentage of oil and petroleum products has fallen. In 2009, there was a shortage of natural gas which resulted in an increased percentage of oil and petroleum products being used. The following diagram illustrates these trends and shows the percentages of fuels used (for 2017: natural gas 79.3%, oil and petroleum products 6%, renewables 14.7%).
The precondition for the further development of the district heating systems in the Republic of Croatia is the intensive renewal and technological improvement of the existing systems, especially in terms of switching to low-temperature district heating systems through which heat will be delivered to the previously refurbished housing fund. Heat loads in existing systems will be reduced, opening the possibility of connecting new final customers and developing a 4th generation district heating systems. It is necessary to strengthen the use of renewable energy in district heating systems, primarily all forms of biomass and geothermal energy.
The major challenge is to raise more awareness about District Heating and to create conditions for it to become profitable by allowing price levels to facilitate development. The implementation of the Energy Development Strategy through an Energy Strategy Action Plan is also a challenge as it will determine measures, activities and implementation dynamics of the energy policy for the upcoming years. The image of District Heating also needs to be improved, especially among non-users, people not yet benefiting from DH should access information via education campaigns.