Heating networks: a source of safe energy


The concept of safe energy is a broad concept and one that is complex to define. It primarily concerns three issues: ensuring energy supply, environmental safety and energy efficiency. Today, as both the supply and demand and the price of fossil fuels fluctuate rapidly, district heating networks appear to be an excellent solution to the requirements imposed by safe energy.

When we talk about safe energy for a city or country, it is in reference to the security of supply of a network (gas, oil …), at a reasonable price, in a continuous stream. Geopolitical instability, technical damage to distribution networks, long periods of extreme cold are all situations which test the energy security of a city . In response to this challenge, modern heating networks represent a real opportunity to avoid risks.

Saving on money and raw materials

Heating networks generate, harvest and manage heat continuously. This method can not only save on energy costs but can also help reduce consumption via contracts with communities and the existence of a network for the exchange of heat. Reduced energy consumption also means less reliance on other forms of energy – fossil fuels primarily. Increasingly, communities are turning to renewable energy sources, which are not dependent, or only slightly, on the energy market, such as photovoltaic, geothermal and biomass (plant materials) energy …

Intelligent production and distribution

To achieve greater energy security, management of the production, storage and distribution are crucial. With a heat network, it is now possible to redistribute the heat produced by the industries of a city (Rotterdam harbor) or incineration plant (Grenoble). Some networks also have silo storage devices or basement for heat production by some sources (photovoltaic, data centers …) is continuous throughout the year. The distribution must be regulated to avoid wasting energy. In this light, the heating network becomes more and more “intelligent” by combining various sources of energy. A simple example is Geneva, where a thermal power plant (Lignon-SIG) and a waste treatment plant (Cheneviers) take turns exchanging heat and electricity.

Security for sustainable development

Beyond savings and production efficiency, heating networks are part of a sustainable development approach. By choosing to promote district heating, communities significantly reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. With 63% of homes connected to heating networks, for example Denmark reduced its carbon emissions by 11.7 million tonnes since 1990.

An energy security policy based on heating networks has so many benefits: energy savings, lower energy costs, reduced impact on the environment … The communities also benefit from greater d energy autonomy.

Image source: wikimedia commons / Power Solutions

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