Some 90 percent of Gothenburg’s apartment buildings are connected to the district heating network, a well-proven solution with a number of environmental benefits. But the district heating system has now been further improved using new technology to enable storage of heat for fluctuating needs.
District heating was first introduced back in the 1950s and is a common energy solution in most Swedish cities and regions. The city of Gothenburg has one of the most well-developed district heating systems in the world and is using innovative energy solutions to develop future energy systems with optimal sustainability. By combining earlier initiatives with new technologies, Gothenburg is at the cutting edge when it comes to meeting the energy challenges for big cities and urban areas.
90 percent district heating coverage
Gothenburg’s district heating network is almost 1,230 kilometres long and provides 17,000 buildings with heating. This means that 90 percent of the city’s apartment buildings are connected to the district heating system.
One of the most important environmental benefits of district heating is that it uses a large amount of energy that would otherwise dissipate into the atmosphere or the sea. Some 70 percent of Gothenburg’s district heating comprises heat recovered from other activities, such as waste incineration and refineries. 19 percent is renewed energy (for instance, from biomass) and only 11 percent is fossil energy.
Going fossil-free by storing heat
Gothenburg’s municipal energy company has the explicit goal of becoming fossil-free by the year 2025. To succeed in this, it needs to eliminate the 11 percent of fossil energy in the system. One new method to accomplish this will be accumulation tanks, which store energy that would otherwise have been wasted.
These tanks work like a thermos flask. When demand for heating is lower the heat is stored in the tank, but when demand goes up the system makes use of the stored heat. This technology will considerably reduce the need for fossil-based heating stations, which will be a significant step towards a completely fossil-free heating solution.
The Gothenburg example shows that there is always potential for improvement and development, even for older technology that already has relatively high levels of efficiency and sustainability. Visit Gothenburg to learn more about district heating now and in the future. It’s a field in which Sweden has extensive experience.