Overview of District Heating and Cooling Markets and Regulatory Frameworks under the Revised Renewable Energy Directive


European Commission, DG ENER

Duration January 2020 – December 2021


District heating and cooling enables the efficient integration of large-scale renewable energy sources like biomass, geothermal energy or solar thermal, and the use of various forms of excess heat and free cooling. Furthermore, it can provide flexibility on the electricity market via power-to-heat (PtH) solutions either with direct electric heating or large-scale heat pumps. Because of their various advantages, DHC systems appear in many respects as a potential backbone for coherent local energy transition strategies, mainly due to the fact that they enable local authorities and other local stakeholders to combine a variety of energy efficiency and decarbonisation leverages within an overall multi-energy system, in connection with city planning activities.

Projects goals and results

The objectives of this study is to provide:
  • Overview of the district heating and cooling sector in EU Member States and other selected European countries
  • Regulatory regimes of district heating and cooling, in particular the level of openness and third-party access (TPA), pricing mechanisms and regulations
  • Technical conditions and requirements of access to district heating and cooling networks
  • Measurement methods and approaches of district energy supply of heating and cooling
  • Renewable energy sources in district heating and cooling
  • Building and urban regulations aspects relating to district heating and cooling supply
  • Use of waste heat and cold and how such sources are accounted for in district energy supplies

Tasks of IREES

  • As a consortium partner IREES will analyse the district heating and cooling sector in EU Member States in order to provide an overview and comparative analysis between Member states and derive policy and roadmap recommendations on how a transformation to so called 4th generation district heating and cooling networks can be achieved.

Project partner

  • Tilia GmbH – Consortium leader

  • Technical University of Vienna – Consortium Partner

  • Öko Institute – Service Provider

  • Fraunhofer ISI – Service Provider


Dr. Jan Steinbach
Dr. Jan Steinbach
Eftim Popovski
Eftim Popovski