European Technology and Innovation Platform

Aalborg University presents Heat Roadmap Europe project

by Andrei David, Brian Vad Mathiesen, Susana Paardekooper and Lars Grundahl, Aalborg University

In Europe, there is a clear long-term objective to decarbonize the energy system, but it is unclear how this will be achieved in the heating and cooling sector. The Heat Roadmap Europe (HRE) project aims to improve the knowledge and transfer it to key lead-users across policy, industry, and research. The work in this project builds on three previous HRE studies, which contain the most advanced heating and cooling data available today in Europe, having already influenced high-level policymakers in Europe.

The overall objective of HRE is to provide new capacity and skills for policymakers, industry, and researchers by developing the data, tools, methodologies and results necessary to quantify the impact of implementing more energy efficiency measures on both the demand and supply side of the sector. The primary focus in this project is to create heating and cooling strategies for the 14 largest EU MSs by heat demand. The HRE projects have identified three areas where there are significant opportunities to improve:

Building renovation
Heat savings, particularly in the existing building stock, are essential to decarbonise the heating and cooling system and can still be very economical if they are implemented when people are doing regular renovations to their houses. Buildings must also enable technologies that maximise synergies within energy systems such as low temperature district heating, consider user behaviour and find a balance between investing in savings and renewable supply technologies.

Implement district heating
The further implementation of district heating is still an area where large gains can be made. In some of the countries with the highest potential for this technology, district heating is currently minimal or practically non-existent, even though the potential is larger than in some more traditional district heating countries. The implementation in these areas is hard because of current planning and institutional frameworks, but there is technical and socio-economic potential to provide more renewable and affordable heating and cooling.

Heat synergy regions
The latest results from the HRE project, shows that there is still a huge amount of energy being wasted. This is shown by using the Pan-European Thermal Atlas, which locates the excess heat activities. By combining knowledge of the location of heat demands and excess heat activities allows the HRE project to highlight heat synergy regions in which both high levels of heat demand and high levels of excess heat exists. It shows that the potential for harnessing excess heat in Europe is huge, but has largely not been realised.

Figure 1 - An image from Peta 4 ( showing the Middlesbrough and Hartlepool area. It displays the heat demand density and sources for excess heat. In the interactive version, one of the possibilities is to select the potential excess heat facilities to gain more information.

In addition to these, this project will also demonstrate how to simultaneously reduce the costs of the heating sector. By quantifying these impacts, it will empower policymakers and investors with the knowledge necessary to identify the most cost-effective technologies to decarbonise the heating sector of Europe over the next 30-40 years. Since the 14 MSs involved represent over 90% of the heat demand in the EU, it is expected that this project will outline how ~3000 TWh/year of energy can be saved in Europe in the coming decades.

Project partners:

Further information on the project is available here.

Please click here to download the project presentation.