Low temperature district heating networks for complete energy needs fulfillment

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Maria Alessandra Ancona
Michele Bianchi
Lisa Branchini
Andrea De Pascale
Francesco Melino
Antonio Peretto


In order to reduce fossil fuels consumption and pollutant emissions, high contribution is given by district heating. In particular, the integration with renewable energy may lead to a significant increase in energy conversion efficiency and energy saving. Further benefits can be achieved with low temperature district heating, reducing the thermal dissipations through the network and promoting the exploitation of low enthalpy heat sources.

The aim of the paper is the analysis of the potential related to the conversion of existing district heating networks, to increase the exploitation of renewable sources and eliminate pollutant emissions in the city areas. Further aim, in this context, is the optimization – from both energy production and operation management viewpoints – of a low temperature district heating network for the fulfillment of the connected users’ energy needs. To this respect, a traditional network with a fossil fuel driven thermal production plant has been considered and compared with a low temperature district heating scenario, including geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaic panels and absorption chillers. These scenarios have been analyzed and optimized with an in-house developed software, allowing to demonstrate the reduction of primary energy consumption and CO2 pollutant emissions achievable with low temperature networks. In addition, a preliminary economic evaluation has been carried out to compare the proposed solution with traditional district heating.

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