Around the world, cities and communities are deploying district energy system infrastructure in a bid to cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency and strengthen their local economies.
The International Energy Agency will be recognizing many such examples of urban environmental and economic performance through awards ceremony at the Hudson Theater in New York City on September 23, 2013.
District energy systems supply the heating and cooling needs of multiple buildings, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of buildings in a city, community, campus setting or military base. Combining the thermal energy requirements of many millions of square feet of customer building space creates an economy of scale to deploy low carbon solutions like surplus industrial heat recovery or combined heat and power. District energy systems allow communities to reduce their environmental impact and utilize local energy resources, enabling energy dollars to recirculate with multiplier effect in the local economy.
Examples of systems providing these benefits are the projects below, all of which were submitted for consideration for a 2013 Global District Energy Climate Award. You can find more information about all systems under consideration here.
- Bromölla is a small town in Sweden that uses surplus heat from the local pulp and paper industry to provide secure, inexpensive and climate friendly heating to half the population.
- Con Edison Steam is one of the largest district energy systems in the world. In 2012, 64 percent of the heat supplied to buildings on Manhattan’s 102 mile underground piping network was surplus heat from power generation, avoiding 430,000 tons of CO2 emissions through combined heat and power.
- Helsinki Energy makes use of harnessing waste heat throughout the City, capturing and re-using low grade heat for space and hot water heating and district cooling for air conditioning while avoiding unnecessary combustion of fossil fuels through customer efficiency optimization.
- District Energy St. Paul has shifted from coal to local urban wood waste as primary fuel and is integrating solar thermal to provide low carbon heating and cooling to the majority of buildings in the Minnesota state capital, avoiding over 240,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually.
District energy systems in the news recently include Veolia Energy North America’s February opening of two natural gas-fired, rapid-response boilers, as part of the company’s multi-million-dollar investment in its Philadelphia district energy network to convert it to 100 percent steam. he rapid-response boilers replace an old, oil-fired boiler, increasing the overall efficiency of steam service in the central business and University of Pennsylvania districts of Philadelphia.
Canadian telecommunications company Telus is building a $750-million residential and commercial complex in downtown Vancouver, BC, and is going to heat and cool the new Telus Garden development with a district energy system that uses waste heat from its own nearby data center.