The article analyzes the policy of EU countries and the European Commission towards decarbonization of heating and cooling. While decarbonization of power generation has been in focus of environmental policy for decades, decarbonization of heat has won attention only recently despite being responsible for half of EU energy consumption. Nevertheless, several strategic approaches to the greening of heating systems can be found across European countries. The most comprehensive and close to non-carbon target is the Scandinavian model based on high level of district heating penetration along with high share of renewables in heat production. Proven efficiency of this strategy motivates other countries to aim at implementation its main features in those European regions where district heating is economically viable: to deploy district heating networks accompanied by support of renewables as a heat source. This strategy is also used to lessen reliance on natural gas in heat generation in gas-dependent energy systems. In some cases coal-based CHPs are replaced with less ecologically harmful gas-fired CHPs what represents a halfway strategy. In case of a highly decentralized heating the policy focuses on individual heating equipment upgrade and conversion to renewable sources. Considering diversity in conditions and approaches used by European countries, the EU strategy on heating and cooling is addressing the universal features relevant for all EU countries: energy efficiency of the buildings and promotion of higher share of renewables in heat generation. At the same time, the present measures of EU strategy incorporated in the “winter package” are quite limited, so there is significant potential for further development considering positive experience achieved by Scandinavian countries.
energy transition, district heating, environmental policy, renewables, decarbonization, EU
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