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Sweden: discovering a potential model for energy efficiency in districts

OpenHouse events throughout Europe represent an opportunity for outreach and replicability, central features of many European demonstration projects

As part of the European Sustainable Energy Week 2015, the MySmartCityDistrict project CITyFiED opened the doors of its residential district renovation showcases in Torrelago (Laguna de Duero, Spain) and Linero (Lund, Sweden). The aim was to share with citizens and stakeholders its achievements and best practices to make of more efficient and smarter towns a reality. The interviews with two organizers of the event, a technical expert and a representative of the Local Authority, provide different views on this experience, which can be considered as a best practice example for the involvement of multiple stakeholders and end users, who represent the key enablers of the transformation of their cities into the smart cities of the future.


Thomas Eriksson is senior project manager at Kraftringen (owner of the Lund District-Heating network), the CityFiED partner in charge of the OpenHouse guided tour

Markus Paulsson is Energy Strategist at the Lund's municipality, the CityFiED partner co-ordinating the OpenHouse event in Lund

What was the goal of the OpenHouse guided tour? 

The goal of the tour at Linero, with different stations, was to demonstrate and show the steps taken and to explain the next actions that will take place.

Moreover we wanted to explain how this interventions connect to the two-fold objective we have for the Linero site, namely that houses will eventually reduce energy consumption by at least 31% compared to before the project, and that at least 93% of district heating will become fossil free by 2018, rising to 98% by 2020, a year after the project finishes.

At present, renewable energy accounts for around 68% of district heating production.

You were in charge of the organization of the tour. What did it consist of? 

The visit took roughly one and a half hours and involved six project partners posted at various key spots to explain the works and the reason for them. Overall we had some 60 people on the tour, and during the panels sessions this figure rose to around 70 .

The tour included the project's pilot building, the existing district heating system, the solar cells and smart-grid, the electric car charger and visualization spot (we had a big screen that showed the real-time electricity consumption in the household or the district heating consumption in the whole building, among others) and the smart district heating (district heating plus 'intelligent control', e.g. whether forecasting).

I was at the District Heating station, where I explained to the participants that we are replacing the sub-station included in the project by having houses primarily connected.

Right now one sub-station supports around 20-25 houses; we will replace it with six new sub-stations so that each one of them delivers district heating to two or three houses.

This will provide for smarter control, which will bring about energy savings.

What does District Heating mean for sustainability?

District heating enables utilisation of resources in a way that is more efficient than in many other cases. Moreover, as we connect more cities to the district heating grid, we increase fuel flexibility because we can rely on more power-stations and take care of waste heat from industrial processes.

This in turn allows us to keep a high level of renewably produced district heating, and decrease the carbon foot-print, while using as much recyclable heat as possible.

By increasing the size of the district heating grid, the production of heat as well as electricity can be optimized. In total, this optimisation means that the electricity production is increased.

What feedback did you receive from participants on the overall event?

People were really interested in following-up the project. I received feedback from several of Kraftringen’s customers who were satisfied and wanted more follow-up both on District Heating, Smart District Heating and Visualization. Especially the latter had a big impact on the local press, which covered the event extensively.


13 October 2015

What was the OpenHouse about? 

We wanted more people to know about the project and what has been done in the area, so we started with seminars where different speakers covered various topics regarding energy efficiency and retrofitting and then we went to the site, so that people could see all the measures taken. We were addressing politicians, civil servants and people in the building and energy sectors and approximately 70 participants showed up. In this case we chose not to include tenants because the message was a little technical.

Which activity would you highlight as the most successful and why?

Visiting the site because it's when you actually see things that you get both knowledge and emotional connection, which makes it easier to understand [the message]. 

Among other themes, the event's programme highlighted how attendees would learn more about the role of District Heating in a future sustainable Lund and elsewhere. What is this role?

We started with district heating in the 1950 and now it supplies 90% of the heat demand in the city. At first we used oil as fuel, which was still an improvement compared to the coal mostly used elsewhere, so since the beginning it meant less pollution in the city. As the network expanded, it included more cities (now covers three municipalities and soon there will be five) and we also understood that we needed to focus on the global environment and replace fossil fuels with renewable energies (we mainly use biomass and waste heat): we estimate that by 2020 the network will be almost completely fossil free.

District heating means saving energy by being more efficient: by producing both heat and power we get much better use of the fuel (about 90% usage) compared of if you only produce power (usage is 30-40%, the rest gets lost as heat). It also gives a good service to owners, since they don't have to care about the heating supply. 

How has CITyFiED brought Lund benefits in terms of district heating?

It has made it possible for us to do more testing, to add control and have smart district heating: we will now forecast the weather and adjust the heat load to the system accordingly; for example if we expect it to become warmer, we can decrease the heat load earlier and save energy. Also, we are able to include some new sub-stations for the building's heating, which means there will be more control and less energy losses (a single substation will support fewer houses).

You were in charge of a panel called “Energy solutions for European cities: in the Linero district we optimize the energy system and develop a model for energy efficiency in districts that can spread across Europe”. What is needed to ensure that it does spread?

An important part of the project is demonstration; the other is the economy of it: you need to show that you can save energy and money at the same time, which makes it much easier for others to replicate [your findings].

What feedback did you receive from the OpenHouse participants?

Most had already heard about the project and wanted to know more.