Expansion of Austria's district heating networks: 150 sustainable projects are on the rise. This also means an increased demand for piping components.
Sustainable and efficient – district heating is on the rise and helping to achieve climate targets. The planned expansion benefits both the industry and the environment.
If you add them up, Austria’s district heating networks have a total length of 5,600 kilometers (approximately 3,500 miles). By the year 2030, this will have increased to 6,500 kilometers (4,000 miles), or roughly the length of the Earth’s radius. That is the prediction of the Association of Gas and District Heating Supply Companies (FGW). 27.8% of the apartments in Austria were heated with district heating, and the trend is rising. In order to achieve the EU’s emission targets, we have to move away from oil heating systems. District heating from biomass or industrial waste heat is an important alternative, and an important growth market: Due to the resolution of the Renewable Energy Expansion Act (EAG), more than 150 projects, some of which have been on hold for years, will be implemented in the near future.
District heating already accounts for more than a quarter of all forms of heating in apartments.
Thanks to new rules for investments in the energy transition, these projects have now been given the green light. At the same time, this is also the starting signal for increased decarbonization of district heating in Austria by 2040. These projects also mean an increased demand for piping components. Due to the expansion of district heating, more and more customers are being connected to the district heating network. This network connects the consumers with the producers, i.e., power plants, where heat and electricity are generated at the same time (combined heat and power). Further means of heat production that are particularly sustainable are thermal recycling of waste in incineration plants and the use of waste heat from industrial and sewage treatment plants with the help of large heat pumps.
At the transfer station, the thermal energy is distributed to the consumers.
No district heating network without ball valves, piston valves and compensators
In order to keep heat loss to a minimum, pipes are carefully insulated before they are buried in the ground or laid in collector corridors. The water flows through the pipes at between 90°C and 160°C (194°F and 320°F). The high temperatures allow as much energy as possible to be transported. In addition, the pipes are under high pressure: “The medium has to be put under pressures high enough to overcome the varying elevations in the supply area. All of this puts a lot of strain on the material. Not just the pipes, but also the valves and gaskets have to be very robust in order to withstand the physical forces acting on them,” explains Gerhard Praxmarer, Head of Sales at KLINGER Gebetsroither.
District heating is always flowing: The hot water flows from the producer, transporting the energy to the consumer, and then returns back to the heat source as cooled water. “This circulation loop can often extend for kilometers and must be designed with such consistency that there are no interruptions in supply,” says Praxmarer. For the consumers, it is extremely important that heat is delivered reliably. Unlike heating oil, the price of district heating hardly fluctuates. In terms of price, it is one of the most reliable types of heating, and certainly one of the most environmentally friendly. Already 50 percent of the energy in Austria’s district heating networks comes from renewable sources. In the future there will be even more, which will also lead to increased demand for KLINGER products. After all, there is no district heating network without ball valves, piston valves and compensators.
When it comes to renewable heat generation, Austria is in the middle of the European rankings.
“The economic benefit is enormous”
Peter Jurik is a consultant in the field of heating at the Association of Gas- and District Heating Supply Companies (FGW). He sees a bright future for district heating.
Peter Jurik studied green energy technology at the Wels University of Applied Sciences and has been representing the interests of the Austrian district heating industry at FGW for over ten years.
Mr. Jurik, FGW expects the district heating network in Austria to be expanded to 6,500 kilometers (4,000 miles) by 2030. What is this forecast based on?
Peter Jurik: The data is based on inquiries from our members. They tell us what expansions they are planning and which regions they want to open up. Due to the current political development and the Renewable Energy Expansion Act, we will probably revise the forecast upwards.
Why is district heating booming?
Peter Jurik: It has the advantage of being extremely flexible when it comes to heat generation: solar thermal energy, waste heat from waste incineration, industrial waste heat – the list of energy sources is very diverse. Almost 50 percent of the energy in Austria is already obtained from renewable sources. There is also a decarbonization strategy up to 2040 that sheds light on technologies with which we can operate district heating entirely without fossil fuels. The use of renewable gases and solid biomass from the region will play a central role in metropolitan areas. The same applies to waste heat and, wherever possible, geothermal energy to replace fossil oil and gas. This is particularly good for the area as a business location.
In what way?
Peter Jurik: The expansion of district heating means moving away from importing raw materials, thereby reducing dependency on oil and natural gas supplied by other countries. In return, local raw material producers, regional heating networks and the domestic industry benefit through jobs and added value remaining in the country. The economic benefit of district heating is enormous thanks to the efficient generation and distribution of energy, because fewer raw materials have to be used. In addition, district heating suppliers can use technical developments without having to make modifications to the heat consumers. And finally, the climate benefits: In Vienna alone, district heating saves 1.5 million tons of CO2 every year, the amount emitted by all the private cars in the city together.
District heating is supplied from a variety of sources: solar and wind systems, waste incineration, biomass, geothermal energy, and industrial waste heat
How much more energy will be required after the expansion of district heating?
Peter Jurik: Although we expect district heating connections to grow by 50 percent by 2050, we assume that demand for heating will not increase significantly. New buildings are increasingly being built with low or zero energy standards, and building renovations are also progressing hand in hand with efficiency gains in the district heating supply. That is why we assume that energy consumption will increase from 20 to 27 terawatt hours by 2050, and we can handle that.
Will consumers also go along with this? How is the image of district heating?
Peter Jurik: When it comes to cleanliness and convenience, district heating has an outstanding image. Where we don’t fare so well is the price. Many still think that district heating is on the expensive side because they compare the costs with the prices for wood, electricity or gas. We have to communicate even better that we are delivering an all-inclusive product where you don’t have to worry about anything.
No matter whether it’s geothermal energy, waste incineration or combined heat and power generation and sewage treatment plants, you will find KLINGER technology at key points in systems essential for generating heat. KLINGER supplies a comprehensive range of products specifically for this purpose.
KLINGER metal expansion joints and fabric expansion joints
Butterfly valves (flue gas, single, double and triple eccentric)
Pipelines, manhole structures and pump stations: The components of a district heating network are highly technical and must be reliable to ensure the supply. In addition to ball valves and piston valves, KLINGER also supplies gaskets, electric drives and butterfly valves for use in this area.
Butterfly valves (double and triple eccentric butterfly valves)
The transfer from the primary heating circuit, which is connected to the heat source, to the consumer’s secondary network is the last building block in the district heating network. Ball valves, piston valves, etc. also come from KLINGER.
KLINGER ball valve Ballostar KHA DN 15-125 PN 40
KLINGER ball valve Monoball KHO DN 15-250 PN 25
KLINGER piston valve KVN DN 15-200 PN 16-40
KLINGER AB cocks
KLINGER gaskets PSM, KLINGERSIL, KLINGER TopChem
KLINGER district heating stations Combistar FWF and ECOm
Butterfly valves (double and triple eccentric butterfly valves)
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