District energy: power for cities the sustainable way

The future of energy distribution is modern district energy. Integrated systems pipe water and steam around a city to heat and cool buildings, producing electricity along the way and increasingly integrating renewable energy. District energy systems (DES) are exceptionally energy-efficient, leveraging energy that is typically lost and using diverse energy sources for multiple buildings. DES could be the key to decarbonising the built environment, transitioning to renewable energy and limiting global temperature change to below 2oC.

To transition to modern district energy, we need to know where and how thermal resources are being used. The EU-funded STRATEGO project has published the Pan-European Thermal Atlas (PETA), an interactive map with data on regional and European thermal resources and demand. Governments can use this information to implement National Cooling and Heating Plans (NCHPs), which are a European Commission obligation. The CELSIUS project, meanwhile, has resources until March 2017 to support cities in implementing and further developing local district energy systems. Interested cities can join CELSIUS here.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched the Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform to scale up energy efficiency policy, action and investment and to fast-track energy efficiency internationally. The Platform provides technical assistance, support and public-private sector collaboration to bring policymakers and stakeholders together to effect real change. Partners in this process, ICLEI, UNEP and WRI invite local governments to become involved in the Buildings Energy Accelerator and the Global District Energy in Cities Initiative (DEA). Involved cities can showcase their city’s leadership at the COP21 Buildings Day, 3 December 2015, where the results of this call to action will be launched with further information on the support, training and financing the platform will offer. For more information, download the Call to Action.