District energy networks are utilities that distribute thermal energy produced by a central power plant in the form of steam, hot water or chilled water. These networks are also called heating and cooling networks.
The central plant uses several energy producing units that supply the networks based on customers’ daily requirements. The plant can also be coupled to a co-generation unit.
Customers are connected when the network is set up or at a later date as the network expands. Once a building is connected to a network, the reliability of its energy supply is guaranteed.
The network consists of two pipelines that are buried or routed through underground channels :
- one transports fluid from the central plant to the delivery points,
- the other returns fluid to the central plant.
Centralized energy production can efficiently replace individual facilities that often create pollution. It also promotes the development of renewable energy, such as biomass or geothermal energy, on a large-scale.
With plants that can operate in multi-energy mode, networks can always offer very competitive operating costs.
With installation, maintenance, and renewal of assets included in the price, district energy networks are a cost-efficient and sustainable solution.