5GDHC follower regions: a great potential for 5GDHC!

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D2Grids Project

2066 Last modified by the author on 17/05/2023 - 14:19

In the quest to decarbonise the heating and cooling sector and increase the utiliszation of renewable energy sources, the market transformation potential of 5th generation district heating and cooling (5GDHC) in follower regions has been showcased during the recent D2Grids final conference held on April 19th, 2023.

Jeroen Roos, from Stroomversnelling, highlighted the significance of 5GDHC in addressing the heating market's needs and outlined three potential market penetration options for its replication. Eugenia Bueno Martinez, project coordinator at Open Universiteit further complemented these insights by presenting regional analyses conducted in seven follower regions implementing 5GDHC concept promoted by D2Grids project.


Jeroen Roos from Stroomversnelling shed light on the market transformation potential of 5th generation district heating and cooling. Heating and cooling currently account for a significant 50% of the EU's total energy consumption for buildings and industry, with only 23% of this energy being sourced from renewable energy in North-West Europe. Consequently, the heating and cooling sector presents a clear target for increasing the share of renewable energy.

A perspective emphasized during the conference is that there will be a substantial demand for heating and cooling in the future. Currently, the share of 3rd and 4th generation district heating and cooling (3GDHC/4GDHC) amounts to 10% of the total market for building heating in North-West Europe, including an extrapolation to 2022. Furthermore, the DHC Market Outlook predicts a weighted average share of district heating (DH) in the region to reach 39% by 2050. Within this context, three potential options for market penetration of 5GDHC were identified based on the growth forecasts of 3GDHC/4GDHC.

According to the D2Grids experts, the following percentages can be expected for the penetration of 5GDHC in the district heating market:

1. Conversion of existing heat distribution to 5GDHC

2. Transformation of new 3GDHC/4GDHC systems as 5GDHC since 2022: as the development of new district heating systems takes place, the experts anticipate that 5GDHC will be the chosen technology. This means that these new systems, starting from 2022, will be implemented as 5GDHC, thereby contributing to the overall growth and penetration of 5GDHC in the market.

3. Realization of DH(C)-systems that wouldn't be realized as 3GDHC/4GDHC since 2022: this option pertains to the implementation of district heating and cooling systems that were not originally planned or envisioned as 3GDHC/4GDHC but will be developed as 5GDHC.

Considering the alternative approach to evaluating the market transformation potential for 5GDHC in North-West Europe, the share of district heating in the total heating market is expected to grow from 10% in 2020 to 25% in 2035 and eventually reach 39% by 2050. Concurrently, the share of 5GDHC within the district heating sector is anticipated to rise from a low percentage in 2020 to 15% in 2035 and further to 40% by 2050.


Eugenia Bueno Martinez presented regional analyses conducted in seven follower regions as part of the D2Grids project. These regions include East Midlands, Flanders, Luxembourg, North-East France, Parkstad Limburg, Ruhr-area, and Scotland. The objective was to evaluate the potential for implementing 5GDHC after the project's conclusion.

The analyses considered factors such as existing infrastructure, planned developments, thermal demand and supply profiles, legal and policy frameworks, and financing options. By assessing these aspects, the analyses aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of each region's readiness for 5GDHC adoption.

The findings of these regional analyses are available here.
They serve as a valuable resource for policymakers, industry players, and communities interested in sustainable heating and cooling solutions. The insights gained can lead to future strategies and investment decisions to accelerate the replication of 5GDHC in follower regions.

Find out more about the seven follower regions in this article! 

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