The need for district heating development has been identified by the Irish Government as being a key part of Ireland's overall strategy to improve energy efficiency of buildings and reduce emissions.
This is supported by SEAI's National Heat Study 2022, which found that up to 54% of heat demand in Ireland could be provided by district heating from renewable heat. A multi-disciplinary District Heating Steering Group was established in 2022 to coordinate the development of district heating regulation and policy and to support growth of a district heating sector. Their first Report was recently launched by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. What do you need to know?
District heating networks can:
- use renewable technologies to decarbonise the heat sector;
- offer flexibility in heat sources for buildings; and
- provide the ability to adapt to economic and geo-political changes.
The recast Renewable Energy Directive 2018 defines "'district heating" or "district cooling" as
the distribution of thermal energy in the form of steam, hot water or chilled liquids, from central or decentralised sources of production through a network to multiple buildings or sites, for the use of space or process heating or cooling.
District heating can deliver decarbonised heat necessary to meet a significant portion of Ireland's renewable heat targets. National policy in Ireland has recognised that district heating can significantly support Ireland's energy and climate goals. Indeed, SEAI's National Heat Study 2022 shows that 54% of heat demand in Ireland could be provided by district heating from renewable heat.
The Irish Climate Action Plan 2023 also supports delivery of up to 2.7TWhr of district heating by 2030. This would significantly reduce emissions and assist transition to more sustainable low-carbon alternatives for heating buildings.
District Heating Steering Group
A multi-disciplinary District Heating Steering Group (the Steering Group) was established in 2022 in light of the critical need to develop district heating sector in Ireland and to consider the associated regulation, planning, funding, and research structures needed. District heating currently represents less than 1% of the Irish heating sector and one of the lowest shares of district heating in Europe and the Steering Group which the Irish Government is clearly seeking to significantly improve.
Steering Group Report 2023
The Steering Group Report 2023 contains eleven overarching recommendations to develop district heating in Ireland including the need to:
- enable public, private, and utility stakeholders to realise district heating development in Ireland;
- develop a regulatory system for district heating that ensures consumer protection and expand the district heating sector;
- enable and mandate public bodies to connect to district heating networks;
- establish a Centre of Excellence for district heating in the SEAI to support district heating development; and
- financially support roll out of district heating in Ireland
In launching the Report, the Minister identified recent district heating projects which are currently heating public sector buildings and homes in South Dublin County Council local authority area and flagged further proposed district heating developments for Dublin City.
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