Earth Overshoot Day – and the crucial role of district heating
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s consumption of natural resources exceeds the planet’s capacity to regenerate those resources in that year. In 2021, it falls on July 29. That means there will be 5 months this year when we are overconsuming our planet’s resources. Together, we must work to move back the date of Earth Overshoot Day – and, at Diehl Metering, we believe district heating could have a key role to play.
Today, nearly 50 percent of worldwide energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are caused by heating and cooling. Furthermore, within the European Union, heating and cooling account for approximately half of annual final energy consumption.
This means the heating and cooling sector has a major impact on Earth Overshoot Day. But the good news is that the sector also offers considerable potential to move the date back. If we can optimize the way we produce and consume heating and cooling, we can reduce their negative impact on the planet.
Sustainability through district heating
One technology with proven potential for decarbonizing energy is district heating. The solution consists of generating heat in a central location and distributing it through a pipe circuit to buildings for space heating and domestic hot water. The key to optimizing sustainability in district heating is to use renewable energy sources, such as solid biofuel, geothermal and waste heat from industry. In this way, heat is collected and stored for local distribution rather than being generated by fossil fuels. Indeed, it is estimated that waste heat from power plants and industry in Europe could cover the entire European heat demand if it were collected in district heating systems.
Today, district heating represents around 10% of Europe’s total energy consumption for space heating. By 2051, this figure could realistically reach 50%. The solution therefore offers extensive scope to move back the date of Earth Overshoot Day.
The potential of district heating may be considerable – but it can only be realized if it is managed and consumed efficiently. At Diehl Metering, we offer a range of solutions to optimize the performance and sustainability of district heating networks, including addressing key challenges such as high flow temperatures, leaks and sub-optimal consumer heating behavior.
Our SHARKY ultrasonic heat meters and flow sensors precisely measure flow rates in the forward and return pipes, while our IZAR data management software analyzes and presents network data in an easy-to-understand dashboard. When combined in a fixed network, these solutions enable utilities to quickly detect and address anomalies such as leaks and inefficiencies such as low temperature spreads. Furthermore, utilities can use our IZAR@HOME smartphone app to share individual household consumption data with consumers, empowering them to change their habits and further increase network efficiency. As well as saving energy and reducing waste, these solutions provide significant cost savings to district heating companies.
Looking ahead, one of the major developments in district heating is to reduce flow temperatures in the entire network. If utilities can continue to deliver efficient heating at lower temperatures, they will further reduce energy waste and increase production efficiency based on renewables.
Our teams are actively working to help district heating utilities to seize these opportunities. In so doing, we will jointly make an important contribution to reducing our carbon footprint and moving back the date of Earth Overshoot Day.
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