Holistic methodological framework for assessing the benefits of delivering industrial excess heat to a district heating network
Journal article, 2020

In Sweden, over 50% of building heating requirements are covered by district heating. Approximately 8% of the heat supply to district heating systems comes from excess heat from industrial processes. Many studies indicate that there is a potential to substantially increase this share, and policies promoting energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reduction provide incentives to do this. Quantifying the medium and long-term economic and carbon footprint benefits of such investments is difficult because the background energy system against which new investments should be assessed is also expected to undergo significant change as a result of the aforementioned policies. Furthermore, in many cases, the district heating system has already invested or is planning to invest in non-fossil heat sources such as biomass-fueled boilers or CHP units. This paper proposes a holistic methodological framework based on energy market scenarios for assessing the long-term carbon footprint and economic benefits of recovering excess heat from industrial processes for use in district heating systems. In many studies of industrial excess heat, it is assumed that all emissions from the process plant are allocated to the main products, and none to the excess heat. The proposed methodology makes a distinction between unavoidable excess heat and excess heat that could be avoided by increased heat recovery at the plant site, in which case it is assumed that a fraction of the plant emissions should be allocated to the exported heat. The methodology is illustrated through a case study of a chemical complex located approximately 50 km from the city of Gothenburg on the West coast of Sweden, from which substantial amounts of excess heat could be recovered and delivered to heat to the city's district heating network which aims to be completely fossil-free by 2030.

carbon footprint

GHG emissions

energy market scenarios

industrial excess heat

district heating


Karin Pettersson

RISE Research Institutes of Sweden

Erik Axelsson

Profu AB

Göteborg Energi AB

Lina Eriksson

RISE Research Institutes of Sweden

Elin Svensson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

Thore Berntsson

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

Simon Harvey

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology

International Journal of Energy Research

0363-907X (ISSN) 1099114x (eISSN)

Vol. 44 4 2634-2651

Subject Categories

Energy Engineering

Other Environmental Engineering

Energy Systems



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