Paper in proceedings, 2014

Heat demand in a district heating system can exhibit significant variation within one day, which sets problematic conditions for efficient heat generation. Short-term thermal energy storage can decrease this daily variation and make the conditions for generating heat more favourable. By periodically overheating and under-heating buildings, causing small variations in the indoor temperature, their thermal inertia can be utilized as short-term thermal energy storage. This study presents the results from a pilot test where the potential to function as short-term thermal energy storage was tested in five multifamily residential buildings in Gothenburg, Sweden. These results are then up-scaled to study the consequences for a whole-district heating system from a large-scale implementation. The signal from the outdoor temperature sensors in the test buildings were adjusted in different cycles over a total of 52 weeks. The delivered heat and indoor temperature were measured during the test. The results show that heavy buildings with a structural core of concrete can tolerate relatively large variations in heat delivery while still maintaining a good indoor climate. Storing 0.1 [kWh/m2 floor area] of heat will very rarely cause variations in indoor temperature greater than ±0.5°C in a heavy building. Utilizing about 500 substations for short-term thermal energy storage in large residential buildings would provide capacity for storing heat equivalent to that of a hot water storage tank with a volume of 14,200 [m3] for the city of Gothenburg. This would decrease the daily variations in heat load by 50%, reduce the need for peak heat generation, and reduce the number of starts and stops of heat-generation units.

Demand side management

Thermal energy storage

Load control

District heating



Johan Kensby

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Building Services Engineering

Anders Trüschel

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Building Services Engineering

Jan-Olof Dalenbäck

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Building Services Engineering

The 14th International Symposium on District Heating and Cooling, September 7th to September 9th, 2014, Stockholm, Sweden


Areas of Advance


Subject Categories

Energy Systems

Building Technologies



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