In the Netherlands, heat supply from district heating schemes represents a relatively small proportion of total heat supply. As of 2013, approximately 4.4% of dwellings in the country are connected to one of the 400 district heating schemes. The total share of district heating is slowly increasing, part due to the growing recognition of the positive contribution that combined heat and power (CHP) and district heating can make towards meeting environmental objectives.
There is a large opportunity for growth in district heating, but the potential is uncertain due to changes in the regulations caused by the Dutch Heat Act. The long-term perspectives will largely depend on energy prices, impact of liberalisation and government environmental policies. The Netherlands has huge domestic reserves of natural gas, which is used for heating, industrial processes and electricity. Due to these large reserves, the majority of heating in the Netherlands is predominantly met through natural gas domestic boilers, as shown on the graph.
District heating accounts for only approximately 4% and 90% of this district heating in 2013 was generated from direct renewable source and recycled heat. In the Netherlands, the four main district heating firms own the majority of the 4,000 km of transport and distribution infrastructure. Furthermore, several operate their own CHP plants and a number of growing renewable energy projects, such as heat pumps, geothermal and biomass.