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Relying on intelligent heating networks – June 2012

Heating and cooling networks that use renewable energies are efficient and competitive. With the Greater Paris project, an opportunity has arisen to create new district heating networks that are at once ecological, profitable and supportive.

When France and Europe took the decision to limit carbon emissions, and to provide tax incentives for renewable energies, it was demonstrated just how economically attractive these heating and cooling networks, which use renewable energies, are compared with individual solutions.

Geothermal, biomass and recovery
Local, renewable energy, independent of fossil fuels, available around the clock.

The development of cogeneration, heat recovery from incineration plants or industrial processes, and renewable energies such as biomass and geothermal energy, has stabilized the price of heating and cooling networks and made them competitive in the face of soaring fossil fuel prices. Renewable energies, such as deep and surface geothermal energy, energy recovery from waste incineration and industrial and tertiary cooling, are therefore once again in the spotlight.

Better networks
At the same time, networks have improved technically, and now require lower temperature and pressure regimes. These advances not only improve their efficiency, but also make them less expensive to build and therefore more profitable.

They can also be better adapted to customer requirements, such as new low-energy buildings, and to climatic constraints, as their design has become more flexible. Last but not least, they help to support local electricity grids by relieving their load at peak periods. The networks are proving to be more efficient than some alternative projects.

But the key is to ensure that a large proportion of the population benefits. The aim is to increase the number of homes served from one million to four million. In this case, we need to take advantage of every opportunity, particularly new development projects, to extend these networks.

Optimal carbon footprint
This is a great opportunity to create heating networks that are at once ecological, profitable and socially responsible. Not all sites currently under study will be suitable for ecological networks. We therefore need to quickly define which sites will be suitable. Beyond the global analyses currently underway, we need to bear in mind that each site will have its own specific characteristics. It is the role of local operators and the companies involved to design optimized solutions that will enable each project to achieve the best possible “carbon footprint”. It is through the environmental solutions that are put in place today that the territory we want to live in tomorrow will take shape.