In conjunction with XD Consulting we hosted a SUNSTORE District Heating workshop in WeCreate in Cloughjordan EcoVillage on June 12th & 13th. The event focused on bringing Danish District Heating experience to Ireland. 40 people attended the workshop, many of which have potential projects in the pipeline. Many of the Irish projects are being currently examined by local authorities and other public bodies. They see the potential to reduce cost, strengthen local economies and significantly reduce the environmental impact of their energy use, where renewable or waste heat is planned to be used.
One interesting conclusion from the almost 400 District Heating companies in Denmark is that the network and plant should be owned by the customers in a cooperative structure. As District Heating is a local monopoly, a not for profit ownership structure is favoured to ensure that the system is run to the benefits of the customers. District Heating in Germany allows for profit, with the result that many companies in Germany are being bought out by users. German District Heating users favour the Danish model and we in Ireland should learn from this.
One other significant conclusion is that the density of heat use to make District Heating viable is not as large as people often assume, about 50TJ /km2, which would include most Irish towns and cities. Many people consider snow covered Scandinavia, but omit to consider how much better insulated their buildings are.
At the workshop a new Intelligent Energy Europe project was launched to bring District Heating expertise into Ireland. The Smart Reflex project has partners from Italy, Spain, Denmark and Germany, in addition to Kerry County Council, XD Consulting and Tipperary Energy Agency. A national network of interested parties is now established as a LinkedIn group – District Heating Ireland.