For the district energy community, there is no more important partner than the cities and communities our networks are meant to serve. With this in mind, instead of presenting them with a vision of what we can offer to them, we’ve decided to start by asking them what they want!
Their challenging and inspiring replies make it clear the future of our business will be about two things; growth and change. Cities all over Europe are counting on district energy networks to deliver decarbonised, efficient, reliable and affordable heating and cooling and they cannot and will not wait until 2050 to see it happen.
Today, heating and cooling accounts for roughly half of the energy consumed in the European Union, and - despite significant and essential measures aimed at reducing demand – it is still expected to account for the largest share of demand in 2050. Indeed, demand for cooling is expected to grow rapidly as the climate continues to warm. The challenge of delivering sustainable heating and cooling solutions to cities is therefore far more than just another detail in the wider climate and energy debate.
It is a fundamental necessity if Europe’s sustainable energy ambitions are to be realised. Fortunately, cities are responding to this challenge with a strong sense of urgency and great clarity of purpose. In parallel to the emergence of heating and cooling as a priority policy area at EU and national level in recent years, local authorities are taking an increasingly active role in ensuring that their citizens can have access to sustainable, affordable and reliable thermal comfort now and in the future. As we have learned through the preparation of this initiative, this process has led a large and ever-increasing number of them to identify DHC networks as a key tool at their disposal.
As an industry that helps 120 million customers across the EU meet their most fundamental energy needs, the European district heating and cooling (DHC) industry has a clear responsibility to move with speed and purpose to ensure that our responsibilities towards our customers, our communities and our planet are met. This is precisely what we intend to do.