Innovationen and replication

The following innovative steps forward are expected:


Innovation 1 – Development of prefabricated skids for waste energy sources


Engineering offices, factories’ and buildings’ energy managers do not know which are the opportunities, technical needs and performance of systems possibly used to recover low temperature waste heat with a DH network.


By developing prefabricated skids (compounds including the necessary hydraulic, electric and control/monitoring hardware and software), LIFE4HeatRecovery aims to develop and demonstrate a set of units capable of exchanging and storing energy with the DH network.


Prefabrication, standardisation and modularity are peculiar features of the skids developed and innovative steps forward compared to the know pilot plants. Prefabricated skids with this purpose and features are not available on the market, thus prototypes will be designed, manufactured and demonstrated in real DH networks.


Innovation 2 – Multiple waste heat sources integration


Using waste energy impacts significantly on:


  • heat island effect reduced as heat rejected is recycled for heating purposes
  • local pollutants fully avoided from single dwelling and building boilers replaced.


With respect to the environmental impact, when chillers reject waste heat in DH networks, average COP levels between 4 and 6 are obtained respectively in high- and low-temperature networks (equal to 0.25 to 0.15 kWh of electricity used to recover 1 kWh of waste energy). The same chillers rejecting heat in ambient air would show an average COP of 3 to 3.5 (0.28 to 0.33 kWh electricity to reject 1 kWh thermal energy). Electricity savings in the range of 15% to 55% can be expected at waste heat source side (e.g. supermarket, factory, tertiary building, etc.).


With reference to high temperature networks, the electricity consumption calculated above represents most of the final energy used to cover final customer’s heating needs, corresponding to about 0.6 MWh of PE consumed per MWh of thermal energy provided to the customer (having in mind the specific values assumed in the previous section) and 94 kg/MWh of CO2 equivalent emitted. Comparing this with preparing space heating and domestic hot water by means of a gas boiler, around 60% PE and 70% CO2 equivalent emissions savings are obtained. Without going into details, the analysis carried out in FLEXYNETS shows that similar results are obtained with respect to low temperature DHC networks, since the electricity consumption needed to recover waste heat is lower, but a heat pump with similar electricity consumption is needed at consumer side.


Innovation 3 – Assessment of TRADING schemes (business models)


Despite the climate and environmental advantages related to multiple players providing thermal energy to the network, the practical achievement of this objective poses practical challenges. The distributed generation approach produces heat marketability and management issues due to the fact that any actor connected to the network potentially plays the role of both energy user and provider. However, it also triggers the transition from a monopolistic management to a free market condition.


Management schemes will be studied to promote energy utilisation from urban waste heat sources. The latter will be the basis for business models (Trading Schemes) demonstrating that the solutions can be adopted by  different markets, because technically practical, legally suitable and economically viable.


Innovation 4 – FINANCING schemes driven by large private-public cooperation


LIFE4HeatRecovery moves forward compared to the traditional public funded infrastructural development. It proposes a risk mitigation approach devoted to attract private financing, based on reliable technical, economic and fiscal information on the one hand, and on balanced packages of private and public funding on the other hand.


The project LIFE4HeatRecovery has clear DEMONSTRATION character, as beneficiaries want to take over from previous laboratory and pilot experience, by testing solutions when connected to 4 real scale networks. Assessing the environmental and economic performance of full-scale systems installed in different social and legal contexts over Europe will permit to cross-fertilise the approaches to rationalise the information public available and  produced by the project and to make available the results for further replication.




As such the project also shows high replication character.


The above motivations show also the need of a multinational approach, as the comparison of multiple solutions and socio-economic boundaries would be impractical with a local or even a national project.


The demonstration at the 4 networks, will be supported with dedicated monitoring activities devoted to assess both the climate-environmental and the socio-economic impacts of the solutions implemented. This will include:


  • monitoring of the demonstration networks
  • simulation of waste heat recovery penetration scenarios in terms of economical feasibility and technical reliability
  • elaboration of market uptake scenarios in terms of local jobs created and increase of revenues.


Moreover, specific replication oriented activity will be performed:


  • A database and recommendations for optimal waste heat recovery configurations
  • Waste heat recovery planning at Early Adopters (beneficiaries) networks
  • Waste heat recovery planning at Partner Cities (external partners) networks
  • The elaboration of a GIS tool for urban waste heat recovery opportunities individuation


The results will positively affect the project beneficiaries directly, and will be made public.

An example of air-conditioners wasting heat into a crowded street