The Hague's heat initiative : towards a smart thermal grid

J.I. Zwetsloot

Research output: ThesisEngD Thesis

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Over 90% of the heating in The Hague is currently provided by gas. With the gas reserves decreasing and the seismic risk is increasing, The Netherlands might soon become a net-importer of gas. The challenge is therefore to develop a more local and sustainable heating system for all. District Heating (DH) can transport heat from different –fossil and renewable- sources and is therefore very suitable for the energy transition. However, current market failure has caused the cities’ existing DH market to be in impasse.
The Hague’s Heat Initiative is founded by the municipality of The Hague and functions as a network of the municipality, residents, entrepreneurs, housing corporations, other real estate owners and energy companies. The Heat Initiative acts as a facilitator and accelerator for heat projects and connects suitable partners for this purpose, while keeping the overall goal of the city in mind. The aim is to achieve affordable and sustainable heating and to create a DH market in which the customer is the focus point.
Because the market model will presumably change within the coming period, a small and flexible managing organization has been set up. Projects are developed based on the enthusiasm of residents; no one can, or will be forced to connect to DH. The aim is to create small projects now, which can combine all together in a smart thermal grid later on. Heating in the built environment currently accounts for 22% of the city’s CO2 emissions. Insulation measures and demolition will cause a drop in energy demand of around 37%. The Hague’s Heat Initiative will actively stimulate this improvement of energy performance of the built environment by proposing a sustainable renovation plan for all houses connecting to district heating. An interactive Heat and Cold map helps pointing out the most profitable areas for retrofitting and DH. From this map, it is estimated that DH is the best heating solution for around 100.000 households. Retrofitting and connecting to DH could lead to a combined decrease in CO2 emissions of The Hague of around 10%.
The most important, local heat sources for The Hague are geothermal and biomass. There are also many regional opportunities for residual and geothermal heat. The aim is to create an independent network which can be used by different energy companies to transport and deliver heat. The environmental impact of sources could be used to divide the capacity of the grid, giving priority to cleaner sources.
The sources which currently are in planning / being researched would offer enough room for DH expansion up to 2023. After that year, more (renewable) heat sources should be deployed. Options for new heat sources include also the transformation of excess electricity (wind power) to heat.
In order for the thermal grid to be smart, it should include features like heat storage, cold supply, demand side management and smart control and dispatch. Some of these features can already be found in best practice projects in Europe, however no large scale fully smart thermal grids are found yet. Innovation in DH consists also of more energy efficient piping and lowering the supply temperature to the end-users, making the system more energy efficient.
Apart from technical features that should help optimize and balance the urban energy system, the desire for a DH grid which allows participation of many heat generation parties asks for certain functional requirements with should be secured during the development of DH. This includes the need for an independent network operator and the possibility of opening up the DH grid to all available energy producers, including prosumers.
This study has been performed specifically for the city of The Hague. Although the exact implementation of the smart thermal grid is highly sight specific, the general approach can be applied to any other city that wants to facilitate and accelerate the development of DH.
Original languageEnglish
  • Zwietering, T.H., Supervisor
  • Lundqvist, Per, External supervisor, External person
Award date23 Feb 2016
Place of PublicationEindhoven
Print ISBNs978-90-444-1440-0
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2016

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