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Massimo Fiorentini

The potential of lake-source district heating and cooling for European buildings

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  • Sven Eggimann, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), Zurich University of Applied Sciences
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  • Jacopo Vivian, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), University of Padova
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  • Ruihong Chen, ETH Zürich
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  • Kristina Orehounig, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa)
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  • Anthony Patt, ETH Zürich
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  • Massimo Fiorentini

Lake-source thermal district networks can efficiently supply heating and cooling to buildings and thus save energy and CO2 emissions. However, it remains unclear to which degree they are a sustainable alternative at a larger geographical scale. An evaluation of the potential of developing technically and economically feasible lake-source district systems in Europe was performed in this study, with an integrated spatial explicit techno-economic assessment that accounts for different boundary conditions, such as electricity price, CO2 price and climate change. The feasibility of covering building energy demand near lakes was found to be particularly sensitive to the relationship between capital costs from network design and operational costs from heat pumps, associated electricity consumption and CO2 emissions. Results suggest a European techno-economic potential of 1.9 TWh/y considering only direct cooling and 11.3 TWh/y if thermal networks supply both direct heating and cooling by heat pumps. Respective electricity savings are 0.36 TWh/y and 0.78 TWh/y. An estimated 17% of the cooling demand near European lakes can thus be covered by viable cooling-only lake-source systems. For combined systems, the viable potential is estimated to be 7% of the total combined heating and cooling demand. Lake-source district systems are found to be particularly promising for Italy, Germany, Turkey and Switzerland. The integration of lake-source thermal networks should rarely lead to severe lake water temperature alteration and therefore not limit the techno-economic potential. The introduced methodology allows for a combined evaluation of technological, ecological and economic boundary conditions for using lakes as a source for district heating and cooling. Thereby, a more realistic estimation of their potential implementation becomes possible, enabling informed energy planning for central or decentral system configurations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116914
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)

    Research areas

  • Climate change, Deep-water, District network, Geospatial simulation, Renewable energy, Resource assessment

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