District Heating Market to Reach USD 186.5 Billion by 2023, Expands at 4.9% CAGR

Tajammul Pangarkar
Tajammul Pangarkar

Updated · Jul 11, 2024

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Introduction

The global district heating market is anticipated to thrive, projected to increase from USD 186.5 billion in 2023 to around USD 300.9 billion by 2033, advancing at a CAGR of 4.9% during the forecast period from 2024 to 2033. This growth is driven by the increasing adoption of energy-efficient heating solutions and the shift towards renewable energy sources, essential in reducing carbon emissions. The market is also benefitting from technological advancements and significant investments in infrastructure development across regions like the Asia Pacific and North America.

However, the district heating market faces challenges such as the high initial costs associated with installing these systems and the complexity of integrating them into existing infrastructures. Moreover, the accurate prediction of load demands poses a significant hurdle, impacting operational efficiency.

Danfoss Group has been actively enhancing its district heating solutions with an emphasis on end-to-end optimization. This includes improving system efficiency through advanced control components and software for better heat production and distribution. Danfoss has also focused on optimizing ΔT (the temperature difference between supply and return lines), which is critical for system efficiency. These innovations aim to reduce primary energy generation costs and overall operational costs significantly.

Alfa Laval is pushing the boundaries in heat exchange technology. Their recent developments include enhancing the efficiency of heat exchangers used in district heating systems. Alfa Laval’s innovations focus on utilizing renewable energy sources, recovering excess heat, and optimizing the performance of heat pumps. These advancements are crucial for improving the sustainability and efficiency of district heating networks.

Fortum Corporation has made significant strides in expanding its district heating capabilities, particularly through sustainable projects. In March 2024, Fortum announced the construction of a new emissions-free, electricity-based district heat production facility in Espoo, Finland. This facility includes a 50-megawatt electric boiler and an 800-megawatt-hour heat accumulator, showcasing Fortum’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions while enhancing energy efficiency.

Vattenfall AB has been active in expanding and innovating within its district heating operations across Europe. A key focus has been the integration of renewable energy sources and the implementation of sustainable heating solutions. Vattenfall’s district heating operations, especially in metropolitan areas like Amsterdam, Uppsala, and Bristol, increasingly rely on combined heat and power plants (CHPPs), with a growing use of technologies like e-boilers and thermal waste utilization. This aligns with their sustainability targets and commitment to providing flexible energy solutions.

District Heating Market Size
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Key Takeaways

  • Market Growth: The Global District Heating Market size is expected to be worth around USD 300.9 Billion by 2033, From USD 186.5 Billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 4.9% during the forecast period from 2024 to 2033.
  • The European District Heating Market holds a 58.4% share, valued at USD 108.9 billion.
  • By Heat Source: Renewable sources provide 41.6% of energy, supporting sustainable operations.
  • By Plant Type: Boiler plants dominate the sector with a 61.5% market share.
  • By Technology: Hot water-based systems lead, holding a 57.6% share in technology.
  • By Application: Residential applications lead, comprising 52.2% of the market’s end-use.

District Heating Market Statistics

  • As of the end of 2019, the national district heating area reached nearly 11 billion square meters, an increase of 600 million ㎡ compared with 2018, a growth rate of about 5.78%.
  • The urban district heating area reached 9.251 billion ㎡, and the county district heating area reached 1.748 billion ㎡.
  • In 2017 fossil fuels provided 5% of the energy mix in Norwegian district heating, while the remaining 95% came from recycled heat, bioenergy, and variable electricity.
  • The second-largest source of energy was wood chip-burning plants, with a share of around 21%.
  • The use of fossil-based oil has been significantly reduced in recent years, accounting for around 1% in 2017, while gas (mostly fossil, but also biogas) accounted for 4.1%.
  • The total length of the district heating network in Norway was around 1,900 kilometers in 2017, which is more than double that in 2008.
  • Government strategy set out targets to connect 50% of buildings to district heating networks by 2050. With 60% of buildings in Denmark connected as a benchmark, there is plenty of growth potential for the UK market.
  • As of 2013, 2% is the market share of homes connected to district heating, showing the scale of individual boiler heating in comparison.
  • Compared to the average CO2 emissions of 240kg/mWh for gas heating systems using individual boilers, district heating can make a drastic improvement on the carbon footprint of multi-dwelling projects.
  • More than 90% of global district heat is produced by China, Russia, and Europe, with China having the greatest growth since 2000 as it has more than quadrupled in 2020.
  • China is responsible for more than 35% of global district heat production making it the world’s largest producer.
  • One concern is that part of the heat produced is lost during the distribution process right before delivery with losses ranging from 10% to 30%.
  • A pivotal part of this is that 63% of Danish homes get their heat and hot tap water from district heating.
  • Furthermore, around 60% of our electricity comes from combined heat and power production with efficiency rates of up to 92%.
  • The consumption of district heating was 3 293 GWh in 2009; an increase of 13% from 2008.
  • The consumption of district heating by the service industry accounted for 68% of total district heating consumption in 2009.
  • The decarbonization potential of district heating is largely untapped, as 90% of the heat supplied in district networks is produced from fossil fuels.
  • Compared to the EU27 average (10%), the share of district heating is high.
  • The average price of district heating in Tampere is around €90/MWh (VAT 24%).
  • In a typical apartment building in Tampere (20-40 apartments), the monthly price of district heating is €77/apartment in summer.
  • In a single-family house, the price of district heating per month is approximately €202 on average.
  • As of the end of 2015, approximately 2.5 million households, about 16% of the total heating consumption, are using DH, and 35 DH companies are operating district heating projects.
  • Significant energy and cost savings for buildings with district heating, often over 20%.

Emerging Trends

  • Increased Utilization of Renewable Energy Sources: District heating systems are increasingly incorporating renewable energy sources such as geothermal, solar, and biomass. This shift is driven by the global push towards sustainability and the reduction of carbon emissions. The use of renewable energy sources not only helps in reducing the environmental impact but also enhances the energy security of the systems by diversifying the energy sources.
  • Advancements in Smart Technology and Automation: The integration of smart technologies and automation in district heating systems is becoming more prevalent. Smart controls and automated systems are used to optimize heat production and distribution, thereby improving efficiency and reducing operational costs. These technologies enable real-time monitoring and management of the heat supply, leading to more precise demand-response capabilities and enhanced system reliability.
  • Expansion of Cooling Services: District cooling, a counterpart to district heating, is gaining traction, particularly in urban areas with high cooling demands. Many district heating providers are expanding their services to include district cooling, utilizing the same infrastructure. This trend is driven by the increasing cooling demand due to global warming and the urban heat island effect, making integrated heating and cooling solutions more attractive.
  • Policy and Regulatory Support: Governments and regulatory bodies are increasingly supporting district heating projects through various incentives and regulations. Policies aimed at reducing carbon footprints and enhancing energy efficiency are particularly influential. This regulatory support is crucial for the expansion and modernization of district heating infrastructure, encouraging investment and development in the sector.
  • Focus on Energy Efficiency and Reduced Heat Loss: Efforts to improve the energy efficiency of district heating systems are intensifying. This involves upgrading the infrastructure, such as the replacement of outdated pipelines with highly insulated ones, to minimize heat loss during transmission. Energy efficiency measures not only reduce operational costs but also align with global efforts to combat climate change by reducing overall energy consumption.

Use Cases

  • Renewable Integration in Marstal, Denmark: Marstal’s district heating system, operational since 1962, stands out as a pioneer in renewable energy integration. It services 1,500 to 1,600 consumers and has embraced renewable sources like solar and biomass extensively. The system includes a large-scale solar heating plant with over 18,000 m² of solar panels and a biomass fraction that accounts for 60% of its energy sources. This initiative represents an early and successful model of sustainable district heating.
  • Decentralized Waste-to-Energy Solutions: District heating systems can efficiently utilize the energy from waste materials. A notable example is the use of decentralized waste-to-energy solutions that harness the energy potential of municipal solid waste (MSW) and other waste streams, converting them into heat and power. These systems can achieve efficiency ratios of up to 80%, significantly higher than traditional electricity generation methods, which typically have efficiency ratios of around 20%.
  • Industrial Applications in Europe: District heating networks are integral to industrial settings across Europe, providing a sustainable and efficient method for managing heat demands. These networks often incorporate advanced technologies such as combined heat and power (CHP) systems to enhance efficiency and sustainability. The integration of these systems helps industries reduce waste and lower carbon emissions, contributing to more sustainable industrial operations.

Key Players Analysis

Danfoss Group actively enhances district heating efficiency through innovations in technology and data analytics. They focus on sustainable, modern district energy networks, emphasizing energy optimization and AI-driven solutions, as highlighted by their acquisition of ENFOR’s district energy software. This move strengthens their capabilities in intelligent load forecasting and energy system optimization, aiming to support the green transition in urban heating and cooling sectors​​​.

Ramboll has demonstrated significant expertise in district heating systems, evidenced by its involvement in over 250 projects globally. They excel in integrating district heating with renewable energy sources, enhancing energy efficiency, and reducing operational costs. Notably, their project at Queen’s Quay in Scotland uses river water for heating, drastically cutting CO2 emissions and serving as a model for sustainable urban heating​​​.

Veolia excels in providing district heating solutions that are both sustainable and low-carbon, significantly reducing environmental impacts through innovative technologies like heat recovery from industrial and data center waste. Their extensive network, spanning over 60 systems globally, showcases their capability in full-cycle project management from design to maintenance, ensuring efficient heat delivery to urban developments​​.

Helen is dedicated to transforming its district heating to be carbon-neutral by 2030, leveraging advanced air-to-water heat pump technology and electric boilers. This Helsinki-based initiative aims to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and enhance energy stability with a robust output capacity, underscoring a pioneering approach to sustainable urban heating​.

Alfa Laval has established itself as a leader in the district heating sector, specializing in highly efficient heat transfer solutions. With over 70 years of experience, the company offers advanced heat exchangers that are integral to both traditional and modern low-temperature district heating systems. Alfa Laval’s solutions are designed to optimize energy efficiency across various generation technologies, contributing significantly to the reduction of carbon emissions in urban heating applications​​​.

General Electric (GE) has been a significant player in integrating district heating solutions within their power generation systems. They utilize combined heat and power (CHP) plants to enhance efficiency by using extraction steam from turbines to provide heating. This process not only supports the heating requirements of residential and commercial areas but also aligns with sustainable economic growth by reducing carbon emissions.

COWI excels in district heating, focusing on innovative design and optimization of systems that increase energy efficiency and sustainability. Their work spans global projects, integrating cutting-edge technologies and digital management tools to enhance system performance and environmental compatibility. COWI’s strategic approach in engineering and environmental science showcases its leadership in the sustainable transformation of district heating and cooling infrastructures​​​​.

Fortum Corporation actively advances the district heating sector by leveraging high-efficiency combined heat and power (CHP) solutions to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy security. Their strategic initiatives aim to enhance the sustainability of urban heating systems, demonstrating a commitment to environmental stewardship and innovative energy solutions.

Vattenfall AB is a key player in the district heating sector, providing sustainable and efficient heating solutions across Europe. With a focus on decarbonizing city heating systems, Vattenfall integrates advanced technologies like e-boilers and utilizes waste heat for its networks. Their projects in Glasgow and Edinburgh aim to connect thousands of homes and businesses to low and zero-carbon heat sources, significantly reducing CO2 emissions​​​​​.

ENGIE SA is deeply involved in district heating, focusing on integrating renewable energy sources and enhancing energy efficiency across its networks. ENGIE’s approach emphasizes sustainable development and the transition to low-carbon energy solutions in urban environments, aiming to meet modern energy needs while addressing environmental challenges​​​​​.

LOGSTOR Denmark Holding is renowned for its provision of pre-insulated pipe systems essential for district heating solutions, emphasizing energy efficiency and sustainability. Their products are designed to significantly reduce energy loss, which enhances system efficiency and supports environmental goals. With a robust presence in the district heating market, LOGSTOR’s solutions contribute to modern, eco-friendly heating infrastructures globally​​​​​.

NextGen Heating specializes in advanced district heating systems that integrate renewable energy sources to reduce carbon footprints. They focus on sustainable energy solutions, enhancing the efficiency and environmental compatibility of heating networks in urban settings. NextGen Heating’s initiatives are geared towards supporting cities in achieving greener energy consumption and lower operational costs​​​​​.

FVB Energy Inc. is a prominent player in the North American district heating sector, engaged in a wide array of projects from feasibility studies to design and review. The company leverages over 40 years of experience, applying its extensive knowledge across nearly all district heating systems in the region. They focus on creating and optimizing energy systems that are both efficient and sustainable, often integrating innovative technologies such as biomass combustion and geothermal heating​​​​​.

Vital Energi is recognized for its comprehensive district heating solutions across the UK, delivering cost-effective and reliable systems. Their approach focuses on partnerships with clients to ensure customized energy solutions that meet both current and future needs, with an emphasis on minimizing operational disruptions and optimizing energy efficiency​​​​​.

Dall Energy has established a strong presence in the district heating sector through its innovative biomass-based technologies. The company specializes in multifuel furnaces that utilize a gasification process, reducing emissions significantly. Their projects include a 9 MW plant in Sønderborg and a 6 MW combined heat and power (CHP) plant in Sindal, Denmark, demonstrating their commitment to sustainable and efficient energy solutions. These facilities not only support local heating needs but also contribute to the broader goals of energy sustainability and reduced environmental impact​​​​​.

Conclusion

District heating systems present a compelling solution for urban energy management, offering significant benefits in terms of efficiency, environmental impact, and economic viability. They harness economies of scale by centralizing heat production, which leads to increased energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions. This system not only simplifies building operations by eliminating the need for individual boilers but also supports the integration of renewable energy sources such as biomass, geothermal, and solar energy.

Furthermore, district heating enhances comfort and convenience for consumers by providing reliable heat and hot water supply around the clock. Economic advantages include lower operational and maintenance costs and the potential for creating green jobs, which can support local economies and aid in achieving broader sustainability goals set by national and EU directives​​​​​​.

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Tajammul Pangarkar

Tajammul Pangarkar

Tajammul Pangarkar is a tech blogger that frequently contributes to numerous industry-specific magazines and forums. Tajammul longstanding experience in the fields of mobile technology and industry research is often reflected in his insightful body of work. His interest lies in understanding tech trends, dissecting mobile applications, and in raising a general awareness of technical know-how. When he’s not ruminating about various happenings in the tech world, he can be usually found indulging in his next favorite interest - table tennis.