District heating is a network of insulated pipes that delivers heat from a central energy source to provide space heating and hot water to the buildings connected to the network.


The most advanced form of district heating (known as 4th Generation District Heating or 4DHC) delivers a lower temperature of hot water, resulting in less heat loss through pipes, improved efficiencies and a wider range of heat sources.


District heating has the flexibility to combine multiple locally-available, renewable and low-carbon heat sources; this means that it is not dependent on one single heat source and can provide a more reliable, continuous and competitive service. District heating can also recycle the heat produced from activities such as electricity generation or industrial processes and use this to heat homes and businesses in the area.

Examples of heat supply and demand in North-West Europe

Current Situation in North-West Europe

Despite its many benefits, district heating currently accounts for just 2–7% of total heat demand in North-West Europe, meaning that the majority of heat in this region is supplied through carbon-intensive, fossil fuel boilers. This is in stark contrast to leading cities in Northern Europe such as Copenhagen, where 98% of buildings are supplied through district heating networks. 

This highlights the need to develop more sustainable low-carbon methods for heating public and private buildings in North-West Europe, and public sector organisations can lead by example by supporting, implementing and connecting to district heating networks in their region. Find out how HeatNet NWE is promoting the roll-out of 4DHC across North-West Europe.

Is my area is suitable for district heating?

District heating is particularly suited to dense urban areas, such as large cities and towns, which typically have the supply (i.e. an abundance of heat sources) and demand (i.e. a strong customer base) to make a network viable.

Click here to find out how to investigate whether your area is suitable for district heating.


Get in touch

Contact us to find out how to implement a district heating network in your own area

Get in touch