THERMOS - a nine-month extension to embed the gains made so far

22 July 2020

The long-running and multi-partner project, THERMOS, began back in October 2016. Originally a 3-year project it was extended once and has been given a further 9-month extension in order to capitalise on the achievements so far and maximise its impact.

THERMOS (which stands for Thermal Energy Resource Modelling and Optimisation System) was funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and Innovation. There were 14 partners in the project from eight countries (see foot of page for a list of these).

The aim of THERMOS was ambitious: to make it easier, quicker and cheaper to design district heating and cooling systems.

These – also known as heat or thermal networks – have a critical role to play in the fight against climate change through providing an economical way to decarbonise heat and reduce health impacts through reduced fossil fuel consumption.

Common in some European regions, but extremely rare in others, district heating systems require considerable investment in time and money. As Martin Holley of the Centre for Sustainable Energy said: "Planning a local heat network is a drawn-out, expensive and complex business, not least because of the lack of consistency in methods employed by local authorities and developers and the time and effort needed to make on-going design tweaks, which invariably require repeat analysis".

"THERMOS has developed the methods, data, and tools to enable rapid and sophisticated thermal energy system planning far more rapidly than they could previously. This will massively reduce planning costs."

At the heart of THERMOS is an online mapping tool allowing users to plot proposed heat – or cooling – networks.

The user can quickly generate local heat demand maps of their chosen district and select clusters of buildings and interconnecting pathways which the tool will then use to  simulate an actual heat network. The software will then show cost-optimal solutions in which capital costs for plant, pipes and connection are set against revenues from heat sales and monetised greenhouse gases emissions.

The THERMOS tool has undergone several iterations, and version 7 will be released later this year (2020). This will include the facility to optimise energy supply – e.g. to take into account energy output or cost over time through varying demand profiles and different tariffs. Further work will be done on the user interface and on validation of modelled results.

To promote the roll-out and adoption of the tool, THERMOS formed an Ambassadors Group of likeminded, exemplary strategic stakeholders. There are now 19 including local authorities (Bristol, Porto, Murcia), higher education institutes and organisations in the energy industry. THERMOS also ran a training programme to maximise the number of people qualified to use the mapping tool and encourage them to spread the word about the facility to planners, local authorities, developers, the energy industry and related sectors. Over 70 trainers are in place to support future users and in the nine months of the extension further training is planned to increase this number and to bring already-trained people up to speed with the latest version of the THERMOS tool.

So what do past users have to say? Here are three of them …

“The tool delivers everything local energy planners are looking for. It is easy to use, and can help Islington and other towns and cities build up their internal expertise of modelling heat networks. For us, conducting thermal modelling in-house instead of via external consultants will significantly bring down costs for energy planning.” [James Wilson, Energy Projects & Programmes Team Leader Islington Borough Council]

"At NEUTec we deal with modelling and optimising district heating systems. Our experience with THERMOS confirms its great potential to model networks cost-effectively and quickly, while being user friendly. The compatibility of its data sets with other applications (e.g. ArcGIS, QGIS, STANET) is a great asset for carrying out further spatial analysis and thermohydraulic calculations more easily. [Abdulraheem Salaymeh, NEUTec Research Group]

"I found the THERMOS software very intuitive and easy to use. It makes it easy to obtain economic results of investment, exploitation and calculation of emissions, which at the same time facilitates the choice of different network options. In short, it allows significant time savings in calculations." [Carme Nadal, TubVerd]

The THERMOS tool can be accessed on The website has had nearly 13,000 users.

* The original THERMOS partners were Denmark: Aalborg UniversitetGermanyICLEI European Secretariat GMBHDeutsche Energie-Agentur GMBH; Spain: Creara Consultores SLAjuntament de Granollers; Latvia: Vides Investiciju Fonds SIAJelgavas Dome; Poland: Krajowa Agencja Poszanowania Energii SAMiasto Stoleczne Warszawa; Portugal: Municipio de CascaisRomania: Primaria Municipiului Alba Iulia; UK: Centre for Sustainable Energy, Imperial College, LondonGreater London AuthorityLondon Borough of Islington. One partner – Imperial College – is not continuing the journey for the final leg to March 2021 as their work on the project is done. However, they’ll be maintaining their participation.

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