A large part of the energy consumption in Flanders goes to heating and cooling. District heating networks can reduce that consumption considerably. VITO/EnergyVille is strongly committed to guidance and feasibility studies to win over local authorities and businesses.

District heating uses pipes containing hot water to heat or cool buildings. This water can come from geothermal energy, but also from industrial processes or solar boilers. The process is not new: district heating networks have existed for years in many European countries. Now that interest in Flanders is growing, VITO/EnergyVille wants to contribute by offering feasibility studies and tailored consultancy to local authorities and companies. In recent years VITO/EnergyVille has gained extensive expertise in the area of district heating networks, including through the construction of its own geothermal power plant in Mol.

Sharing expertise

We have been playing catch-up in Flanders for some years now with respect to district heating networks. Preference is given to the latest technologies – the ‘fourth generation networks’ – that allow the connection of different sources of renewable energy to the network. VITO/EnergyVille acts as an advisor and, among other things, assesses the feasibility of projects. The focus is on dissemination: we show the advantages of district heating networks and help new projects get off the ground. In addition, VITO/EnergyVille also conducts fundamental research into the optimal operation of district heating networks: how can we improve the technology, monitor the network, link the generation of heat to the production of electricity or gas District heating networks can then be expanded and/or improved at a later stage. VITO is a member among others of the umbrella organisation Warmtenetwerk Vlaanderen.