This report takes on an energy system perspective to quantify the benefits of energy efficiency in the European heating and cooling sector. This holistic approach enables to take into account sectors and systems interconnections in new ways. Doing so reveals significant results: for a future low-carbon EU energy system it is essential that energy efficiency measures on the supply side, like district energy, are considered with equal importance for decarbonisation as measures on the demand side, like heat savings. They are fundamental to the technical and economic viability of the Smart Energy System.
District energy enables the use of sustainable energy that otherwise could not be utilised e.g. geothermal, industrial waste heat, solar thermal. District heating is essential for low-cost energy storage and creates an important link to the electricity sector via large-scale heat pumps. A more interconnected energy system enables sector integration. In the same way, district cooling often offer a direct opportunity to use the extracted heat in other applications e.g. district heating thus representing yet another synergy opportunity.
Based on the Heat Roadmap Europe project series, this report elaborates an investment roadmap and policy recommendations to implement the Heat Roadmap Europe scenario in 2050. To reach a fully decarbonised energy system in 2050, it is essential to establish many new district heating systems now, with a significant expansion of these from 2025. This report stresses the urgency of immediate action, and that the redesign of energy systems requires long-term strategic energy planning. It is necessary to maintain long-term goals and translate them into actionable steps such as investment levels, new capacity targets, energy efficiency targets and others.