Considering the specific environmental challenges that cities have to face together with the other challenges of mobility, water and integrated recycling processes, we believe that energy efficiency and the needs for heating and cooling deserve a special focus by city planners. Among the new technologies that provide a definitive answer to these challenges there is surely the district heating.
District heating has a very long history that we can make start at the beginning of last century. Nonetheless, district heating as technology has served various needs that have changed often especially in the last decades.
At the beginning district heating was developed to offer a very economical solution in which the real need was to provide shelter and accommodation to people. In that time cities were planning the development of large condominiums and of social housing. The goal was to fight back what we could call the “energy poverty” and to keep people warm. No effort was done to provide efficiency to the system.
Some decades later there was a radical change in the reason why cities decided to adopt the technology of district heating. The goal turned to be the need to offer reliable solutions for heating apartments and of course at moderate costs. For example, in Italy, in the 50’s of last century the great cities like Brescia and Turin begun to adopt district heating with this purpose.
Recently, towards the end of last millennium, district heating has been part of a rediscovery and a series of technological progresses have allowed the adoption of this technology in smaller towns. Moreover, in the past two decades urban district heating has become of interest at the political level because of its benefits not only for individuals but for the community because of its environmental benefits.
For all these reasons, the history of district heating can be imagined as a development or as a technological evolution that cut through four different phases or generations as we have represented in the picture below.
In the chart it is possible to appreciate as the first examples of district heating had an efficiency of only 35% and they worked with temperatures of about 200°C and then how the efficiency has grown up to 90% and consequently the temperatures have gradually gone below 100°C. Today, the most advanced companies in this sector are working hard to develop the 4th generation of district heating. Among these companies there is Cogenpower thanks to its innovative technology Anaconda.
We strongly maintain that with the 4th generation of district heating it is possible to easily merge renewable sources, energy storage and artificial intelligence in an integrated urban system able to improve energy efficiency, the quality of heating and cooling while reducing air pollution.