Posted on Thursday, May 31, 2018 by Steen Schelle Jensen

When utilities, technology and politics meet, innovation grows

What we learned in Brussels and the Digital Roadmap for District Heating and Cooling

Tuesday I took part in the Digital Heat conference in Brussels hosted by Euroheat & Power. Now, conferences can sometimes be a doubtful pleasure, but this one turned out to be one of the best I have been to for a long time. So why was that?

Digitalisation is a very broad topic that has the potential to affect many different levels in the district heating industry. From feasibility studies (whether district heating is even relevant in a given area), over production and distribution, to the end user. Often, there is a risk of too much talk and too little action on this issue because the discussions end up taking off into all kinds of different directions. This was not the case in Brussels.


Attending Digital Heat

First and foremost, DHC+ (the technology platform under Euroheat & Power) has done some solid groundwork of bringing together a number of the digital front runners (including Kamstrup) to describe and clarify the potential in digitalisation on different levels:


-Production
-Distribution
-Building
-Consumption
-Design and Planning
-Sector Coupling

For each area, outlines have been made of the state of the art technologies, the current status and perhaps most importantly the key barriers for progression. All this was presented and published on Tuesday’s conference in the form of a Digital Roadmap, which is now available on Euroheat & Power’s website.

An excellent foundation to create a common starting point for all the new opportunities. I would absolutely recommend that you read it for an update on the digitalisation on district heating and cooling – but more than anything you should read it to be inspired. It will no doubt become a dynamic document that will develop over the coming months but already now it is a great foundation to build on.

 

At the end of the day, we technology suppliers can think out any number of solutions, but we have to develop those thoughts and ideas with utility professionals and especially test our solutions in the real world.

..Steen Schelle Jensen

Furthermore, the conference succeeded in gathering all the relevant stakeholders necessary to actually make things happen. Innovation does not happen on its own, but things start to really take off when innovative utilities meet up with innovative technology suppliers and university researchers focusing on applied science.

That is what happened in Brussels. And it was great to see a Euroheat & Power event where a large number of utilities participated and took an active part. That kind of commitment is needed if we are going to generate tangible results. At the end of the day, we technology suppliers can think out any number of solutions, but we have to develop those thoughts and ideas with utility professionals and especially test our solutions in the real world.


Talk is cheap. Innovation is not.
”The digital movement” is already in motion within district energy and I can’t wait to see the first results come in from the utilities leading the way. At Kamstrup, we are making some serious headway with our Heat Intelligence platform. It does not provide the answers to everything (yet). But we have come a long way and are able to present tangible results. And once we release the enormous potential in digitalisation I am confident that we can generate even more innovation to the benefit of the environment, our climate and not least the end users. Because ultimately, they are what this is all about.

District energy has to be an attractive option for them.
Otherwise what good will intelligent digital solutions do?

For further reading and the actual Digital Roadmap, go to the EuroHeat & Power website:
https://www.euroheat.org/publications/digital-roadmap-district-heating-cooling/

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