A new Horizon 2020 project, RELaTED, that is focusing on heat delivery from solar collectors into district heating systems has been launched. The innovative aspect of the project is that the solar collectors are decentralized. Heat is produced where it is to be used and not in solar parks which require large land areas.
District heating (DH) systems are one of the most energy efficient heating systems in urban environments, with proven reliability within many decades already. DH systems are also identified as a key to achieve the de-carbonization of heating energy in European Cities. Renewable and waste heat sources are foreseen at the same time as de-carbonized heat sources and the way to guarantee competitive energy costs with limited influence of fossil fuel supply price volatility.
Traditionally, district heating plants are hierarchically organized with central energy production facilities delivering heat to a variety of distributed consumption locations. RELaTED will introduce an new concept in which a network of low-temperature energy sources / technologies (solar collectors, heat pumps) can be incorporated into a low-temperature district heating system. The goal is to reduce operating costs associated with heat loss and to make the systems greener without major investment costs.
The RELaTED concept will be demonstrated in five different district heating networks, both new and existing, in Denmark, Estonia, Serbia and Spain. The strategy is in many ways the same as for electrical smart grids, where end customers are both consumers and manufacturers (plus customers).
9 different nations are engaged in RELaTED and the project will last until 2021.