The idea of utilising surplus heat from large energy and waste incineration plants for heating purposes in residential areas and service centres is intelligent, but by no means new. The district heating concepts that were developed in the 1960s and 1970s were widely known, and Energy 2000 – the predecessor of SwissEnergy – specifically promoted the utilisation of waste heat for district heating. With the increasing use of large-scale wood and geothermal power plants today, district heating is gaining in importance – including in the area of renewable energy.
District heating is produced in a central facility – e.g. a thermal power plant, a waste incineration plant or a wood-chip combustion plant. The heat is then supplied to consumers via a pipeline network in the form of hot water for heating purposes and for their hot-water supply.
In the case of cogeneration (or combined heat and power), electricity and heat are generated simultaneously and supplied via a district heating network. District heating offers a variety of advantages: for example, heating systems require less space, and consumers do not have to worry about buying and storing fuels and maintenance of the heating system. Furthermore, supply security is very high, since district heating networks do not depend on a single energy source.