European Technology and Innovation Platform

Solar District Heating (SDH) and actions from policy to market

by Laure Deschaintre, Solites


District heating is one key approach to increase the overall energy efficiency in the heat supply sector, either by refurbishment of existing systems or introduction of new systems in existing or new districts. On the other hand, solar heat is renewable, available anywhere, and cost stable. The technical feasibility of solar district heating plants has been long proved and today economically feasible costs under 50€/MWh are achieved without incentives. More than 252 plants with more than 350kWth nominal power are in operation in Europe and Denmark is leading the way, achieving 1 million square meters installed in autumn 2016. In Europe, there is still a large potential for market development of this technology, addressed by the Horizon 2020 project SDHp2m. 

SDHp2m stands for Solar District Heating (SDH) and actions from policy to market. The project aims at developing, improving and implementing advanced policies and support measures for SDH, leading to a significant market rollout during its three year duration. The participation of the regulating regional authorities as project partners in the three focus regions Thuringia (DE), Styria (AT) and Auvergne Rhône-Alpes (FR) ensures a strong implementation capacity and the development of these regions as role model for others. In six follower regions in Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden the regulating authorities are engaged through letters of commitment. Denmark, first SDH market in Europe is involved for organizing know-how transfer and coaching between partners. The participation of the European and German district heating associations as partners also ensures the continuation of a good cooperation with DH operators at European level. ‘The policy and support instruments of the SDHp2m project, will be available as blueprint for developing solar district heating in other European regions’ says Thomas Pauschinger, project coordinator from the Steinbeis Research Institute Solites. 

In each region, a stakeholder advisory group has been created, gathering market and policy actors to identify the actions to be taken to enable a market roll-out of SDH. A detailed action plan has been set up that the regional teams are implementing. The planning of activities by local actors at regional level ensures the development and implementation of ideas adapted to the local framework. On the other hand, thanks to the international level of the project, know-how and experience from frontrunner regions are available and partners can exchange ideas and methods on how to tackle their common challenges. Several factsheets are under development regarding the policy, financing and market development actions in each region. These factsheets as well as other project results, news on latest developments in the field and planned events can be found at