District heating to become greener and remain most popular form of heating also in future – District cooling well placed
Preliminary data for 2015 show the share of carbon-neutral district heat production rising to almost 36 per cent. The Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT report shows district heating continuing as the most popular form of heating, with estimated coverage of 50 – 75 per cent of the heating energy demand of new builds. The market share of district cooling is estimated to rise to a quarter of the cooling demand.
“The share of wood and other biofuels in district heat production rose to almost 33 per cent in 2015. The recovery of surplus heat from industry and other heat wastes increased from 2014. There were significant drops in the use of coal and natural gas, coal by 18 and natural gas by 14 per cent”, says Jari Kostama, Director at ET.
To an increasing degree, the energy source of district heat is heat wastes: industrial heat waste and that recovered from flue gases and computer rooms reduce the use of fuel required and at the same time, naturally, also emissions. The district heating networks in almost all Finnish population centres permit the cost-effective exploitation of heat wastes.
The increased share of biofuels has also led to a reduction in the carbon emissions from district heat production. The carbon emissions from district heat production were 5.1 million tonnes, showing a drop on the previous year of almost 15 per cent. The average carbon emission was 156 grams per each kilowatt hour generated.
Last year, the demand for district heat was a little over 30,000 GWh, a five per cent drop on the previous year. The drop was due to the record-breaking mildness of the year. For residents, the mild year meant savings: the average apartment block dweller saved EUR 92 over the year, while someone living in a detached house saved more than EUR 170. The savings are calculated using the average district heat price in Finland.
Share of cogeneration in district heat production up
Last year, the volume of district heat produced was 33.0 TWh. As cogeneration with electricity, production was 24.4 TWh. The share of cogeneration of total district heat production rose by about a percentage point to 74 per cent.
The volume of electricity cogenerated with district heat was 11.8 TWh. In combined heat and power generation, a third of the fuel quantity is saved compared to when they are produced separately. The emissions are reduced proportionally.
Cool summer reduced demand for district cooling
Compared to the year before, the demand for district cooling fell by five per cent, standing at 181,700 MWh. The drop was due to the cool summer, making the need for cooling buildings considerably lower than normal. Nevertheless, in localities launching district cooling, the sale of cooling energy has continued to grow as the result of new customers joining the system. Customers’ connection capacity continued to grow, with power demand rising by eight per cent on the year before. Helen Ltd is the most important vendor of cooling energy, supplying almost 70 per cent of all the sales in Finland.
VTT findings: Demand for district heating continues to grow
VTT investigated the current state and outlook for the demand for both heating and cooling. Consumption of heating energy in buildings will not grow any further, even though the floor area of the building stock will increase slightly. Nevertheless, the share of district heat in the use of heating energy may rise, because new buildings are built in towns and cities and the building stock being decommissioned lies in sparsely populated areas.
The purchased energy requirement (8,000 GWh) of new buildings to be erected in 2010 – 2025 is placed in municipalities where district heat has a significant market share. The preferred location of new builds is within old building stock either as complementary building or reclamation of areas, making them potential district heat users. The coverage of district heat of new build heat demand is estimated at 50 – 75 per cent. This would make the demand for district heat in 2020 40 – 42 TWh.
Demand for cooling energy assessed for first time
The demand for cooling energy was assessed for the first time in Finland. In 2014, the volume of cooling energy used was 1.4 TWh. The market share of district cooling was a good 10 per cent. The cooling requirement is forecast to grow by 2030 to 1.7 TWh, with the market share of district cooling possibly rising to more than 25 per cent.