In densely populated urban areas, the deployment of decentralized renewable energy sources is limited. Heat grids offer the possibility to collect renewable heat and waste heat from different sources to transport them to consumers in those areas. Therefore, they play an important role for urban areas in most long-term climate scenarios.
Today, however, district heat is generated mostly from burning coal and gas. To integrate renewable and waste heat sources, heat grid operators face a huge challenge, as many of those sources come at lower temperature levels and require a reduction in grid temperatures for economic integration. Lowering grid temperatures cannot be done at will. It is constrained by the needs of industrial consumers and the state of renovation of the buildings within the grid area. In other words, decarbonizing heat grids is highly dependent on local conditions, and the individual transformation pathways of existing grids vary considerably.
In this project, we analyse which strategies and policy approaches are promising for reaching a decarbonization of existing heat grids.