01 Oct 2018

Upgrade DH

Upgrading the performance of district heating networks in Europe

Project Duration:

May 2018 – September 2021 

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The overall objective of the Upgrade DH project was to improve the performance of district heating (DH) networks in Europe by supporting selected demonstration cases for upgrading, which could be replicated in Europe.

More specifically, the objectives of the Upgrade DH project were:

  • To initiate the DH upgrading process (retrofitting approaches) for eight district heating systems (heat generation, heat distribution, and heat use) up to the investment stage. The upgrading process includes efficiency measures, the integration of renewable energies, and the sector coupling.
  • To save, by initiating the eight demo cases, more than 190 GWh/a primary energy and of 77,000 t CO2equiv. GHG emissions.
  • To increase the share of waste/residual heat (previously 7% in the demo cases) by more than 6 % and the share of renewable heat (previously 28% in the demo cases) by more than 20% in the eight demo cases and beyond.
  • To replicate the proposed upgrading solutions across Europe through multiplication associations that are consortium partners as well as through the European Innovation and Technology Platforms (ETIPs).
  • To develop regional / national action plans for the retrofitting of district heating networks by including the results of the retrofitting approaches.


The Upgrade DH project supported the upgrading and retrofitting process of district heating systems in different climate regions of Europe, covering various countries. In each of the target countries, the upgrading process was initiated at concrete DH systems (demo cases). It is assumed, that gained knowledge and experiences can be further replicated to other European countries and DH systems (replication cases) in order to leverage the impact.

Demo cases of project can be found in target countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina (Tuzla), Denmark (Middelfart), Croatia (Sisak), Germany (Marburg), Italy (Ferrara and Bologna), Lithuania (Salcininkai), Poland (Grudziadz) and in The Netherlands  (Purmerend).

Map of demonstration sites can be seen in Figure 1. Places mentioned in the list above are marked with red dots.

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Figure 1 - Map of Europe with marked demonstration cases

The overall impact of Upgrade DH is significant. The proposed measures for upgrading lead to a reduction of 16.9% of the primary energy demand and 51.9% reduction of greenhouse gases of the DH systems at the eight demo sites. In absolute numbers, this is a reduction of more than 150,000 t of CO2 equivalent per year. Furthermore, the share of using waste heat increased by 3.3% and the share of renewable energies increased by 21.7%. Several of the upgrading measures are currently being implemented, some measures were even finalised.

Core activities of the Upgrade DH project included also collecting good/best practice examples on upgrading projects, the best upgrading measures and tools, supporting the upgrading process for selected district heating networks, organisation of capacity building measures on DH upgrading, financing and business models, as well as the development of national and regional action plans.

Also, a Handbook was elaborated to inform any stakeholders, such as decision makers, politicians, utilities, operators, end consumers, or potential developers of DH systems, about upgrading opportunities.

In addition, an awareness raising campaign for modern DH networks – named #DHCitizen - was carried out as a part of Upgrade DH project. Screenshots from the campaign can be seen in Figure 2.

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Figure 2 - #DHCitizen campaign screenshots


Document that constitutes a summary of the project results can be downloaded here.

The video from Final Upgrade DH project dissemination workshop - "Towards efficient DHC in Europe", can be viewed on YouTube:



The project was coordinated by WIP GmbH from Germany and encompassed another ten participants from 7 different European countries:

  • Steinbeis Innovation gGmbH, Germany
  • Lietuvos Silumos Tiekeju Asociacija, Lithuania
  • UAB Salcininku Silumos Tinklai, Lithuania
  • Javno Preduzece Elektroprivreda Bosne i Hercegovine DD*, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • AGFW-Projektgesellschaft fur Rationalisierung, Information und Standardisierung MbH, Germany
  • Sveuciliste u Zagrebu, Fakultet Strojarstva i Brodogradnje, Croatia
  • COWI A/S, Denmark
  • Optit S.r.l., Italy
  • Hera S.p.A., Italy
  • Euroheat & Power, Belgium


May 2018 – September 2021


Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme