Associate Professor, Aalborg University

Heat Roadmap Europe 2050

Heat Roadmap Europe 2050

on Apr 26, 2013

Heat Roadmap Europe is the first study on the EU27 scale which combines geographical mapping of energy demand and supply in unprecedented detail with detailed energy system modelling. Heat Roadmap Europe identifies the potential for using local resources across Europe, and subsequently applies this in the EU27 energy system. The final report will be launched at the 36th Euro Heat and Power Congress in Vienna on the 27th March 2013, and results are recommendations for a redesign of the European heat supply.

In 2009 the European Council made the objective for the EU to decarbonise its energy system to at least 80% below the 1990 level by 2050, without affecting general economic growth. A number of measures and technologies could contribute to these goals. A scenario which achieves these goals is the Energy Efficiency scenario in the Energy Roadmap 2050 report by the European Commission.

The Heat Roadmap Europe scenario proposed here achieves these same CO2 reduction, but at a lower cost. Lowering the energy consumption in buildings is essential. However here we combine heat savings in the buildings with higher energy efficiency by expanding district heating in the future heat supply in the EU27. Local conditions are considered using geographical information systems (GIS) and combined with hour-by-hour energy system analyses for the EU27, which enables us to find a robust strategy to increase competitiveness, integrate more renewables and reduce the risks in the energy supply. By analysing heat savings and energy efficiency, by investigating local conditions, and by making energy system analyses we are able to identify a balance between heat savings and key infrastructural changes in the energy supply. The findings in the Heat Roadmap Europe can be summarised into three key messages.


Increasing Competitiveness in Europe

First of all we are able to Increase the economic competitiveness of the EU27. In Heat Roadmap Europe we have compared our results both to the current energy supply as well as to the implementation of the European Commission’s Energy Efficiency scenario (EU-EE).  By refining the EU-EE scenario, we are able to decarbonise to the same level while saving B€100/year, corresponding to 15% lower costs for the total heating and cooling supply for buildings. We achieve this by proposing an enhanced energy efficiency scenario (HRE-EE), which has significant heat demand reductions, combined with lower heat losses and more renewable energy in the energy supply. This ensures that the cost burden on European citizens and businesses is comparably lower with Heat Roadmap Europe, which enables stronger economic development in the EU and provides a more competitive business environment.


Recycling heat losses and expanding renewables

Secondly Heat Roadmap Europe creates a Pathway for heat recycling and more renewable energy, by ensuring that we can increase the penetration of renewable energy in both the heat sector and the electricity sector. In HRE-EE we re-design the heat supply in the EU27 by quantifying the benefits of using individual heat pumps and district heating, in combination with energy savings and renewable energy. Currently about half of the primary energy in the EU27 is lost in the conversion from the primary energy supply to the end use. District heating makes it possible to recycle heat that would otherwise be wasted. The new infrastructure and redesign of the heating and cooling supply presented here enables the efficient use of heat from combined heat and power, solar thermal, large-scale heat pumps, individual heat pumps and many other sources such as geothermal, waste incineration and excess heat from industry. The scenarios introduce flexibility that facilitates the integration of more wind and photovoltaic power in the electricity sector compared to the EU-EE scenario. The HRE-EE scenario includes large savings in the heat demand in buildings. Heat savings in combination with an efficient energy supply system creates a scenario that supports the goals of the European Commission.


Reducing risks in the European energy supply

Reducing risks for the EU27 is a third key message from Heat Roadmap Europe. The infrastructure proposed creates a more diverse energy supply and improves the EU’s security of supply by using resources within the EU and increasing the share of renewable energy. The HRE-EE scenarios use technologies that ensure flexibility in the energy supply which reduce the risk of lock-in effects in Europe. This reduces risks and adverse effects if 1) heat savings in buildings do not have the expected effect due to a lack of implementation, which could occur due to technical limitations or increasing costs, 2) fluctuating or increasing fuel prices, or 3) the cost of some renewable energy sources increases. In Heat Roadmap Europe we suggest a more robust strategy, with a diversified supply and an enhanced energy efficiency scenario that balances heat savings and efficient energy conversion.