THERMOS - Accelerating heat networks in Europe

Optimising the planning of local heating and cooling networks

Project duration: October 2016 ongoing

Planning a local heat network for a town or city is an expensive and complex business, even with strong and supportive policies at local, national and EU-level plus a reasonable level of investment support.

This is hardly surprising. District heating schemes have to be designed to suit a particular neighbourhood and the various buildings that may be connected to the network now or in future, as well as the different needs of the occupants of those buildings. And this is before taking into account real local geographies and political or economic realities.

As a result many of the proposals for heat networks currently being commissioned, both in the UK and across the EU, are bespoke, highly variable in approach and often based on underlying data, models and algorithms which are opaque to the local authorities commissioning them. A lack of consistency in the methods used means that making comparisons between schemes is not always feasible.

CSE is leading a €3m EC Horizon 2020-funded research project working with 14 partners from the UK, Spain, Poland, Latvia, Denmark, Germany, Portugal and Romania (see foot of article for full list) to develop, test and build open-source tools to amplify and accelerate the development of new low-carbon heating and cooling systems, and to enable faster upgrade, refurbishment and expansion of existing systems.

The aim of the THERMOS (Thermal Energy Resource Modelling and Optimisation System) project is to provide the methods, data, and tools to enable public authorities and other stakeholders to undertake sophisticated thermal energy system planning far more rapidly and cheaply than they can today. To achieve this, the THERMOS project aims to:

  • Develop and publish a state-of-the-art methodology for developing address-level energy system maps.
  • Produce a set of such maps for a series of Pilot City authorities (Islington, Warsaw, Jelgava and Granollers) with national coverage where data layers allow.
  • Create and publish modelling algorithms for analysing these maps to answer a range of questions required for thermal energy system planning by city, region and national stakeholders.
  • Develop and publish free, open-source software tailored to the specific needs of different Pilot City stakeholders. 
  • Work closely with energy planning stakeholders to support the use of the new tools in real-world energy planning.
  • Support the implementation of the energy system mapping methodology, and subsequently the use of the software, with a further four Replication Cities/Regions, from three more EU member states.
  • Engage in a wider programme of dissemination and communication to maximise the impacts of the project outputs, during and beyond the lifetime of the project itself.

Martin Holley is managing the project. "Currently, the processes associated with building and upgrading thermal networks are excessively drawn out due to repeated analyses, pre-feasibility and feasibility studies of different options and routes - a kind of reinvention of the wheel everytime someone proposes a district heating network.

"If we do our job well, THERMOS will provide public authorities and other agencies with energy-system mapping methodologies, software and associated modelling tools that enable them to develop, expand and upgrade district heating and cooling systems far more efficiently and cost effectively than they do now. This approach will massively reduce planning costs."

Working with CSE on THERMOS
Our partners include universities, local authorities and city-wide authorities, energy and environmental agencies and specialist consultants:

UK: Imperial College, LondonGreater London AuthorityLondon Borough of Islington; Spain: Creara Consultores SLAjuntament de Granollers; Poland: Krajowa Agencja Poszanowania Energii SAMiasto Stoleczne Warszawa; Latvia: Vides Investiciju Fonds SIAJelgavas DomeDenmark: Aalborg Universitet; GermanyICLEI European Secretariat GMBHDeutsche Energie-Agentur GMBH; Romania: Primaria Municipiului Alba Iulia; Portugal: Municipio de Cascais

For further information contact Martin Holley | 0117 934 1419

Digital surface model: Environment Agency (Crown Copyright) 
Buildings and roads (e.g. the lines and shapes): OpenStreetMap
Satellite image: Google

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