European Strategic Approaches to Heating Decarbonisation

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-8-39-46
A. Zimakov (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), Profsoyuznaya Str., 23, Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Abstract. 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.

Keywords: energy transition, district heating, environmental policy, renewables, decarbonization, EU


1. EU Strategy for Heating and Cooling. SWD (2016) 24. Review of Available Information Accompanying the Document. Brussels, 16.2.2016. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

2. Heating and Cooling Future of Europe and Interactions with Electricity. IEEE European Public Policy Committee Position Statement, 2018. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

3. Danish Energy Agency. Regulation and Planning of District Heating in Denmark. Copenhagen, 2015. 28 p. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

4. District Energy. Energy Efficiency for Urban Areas. Copenhagen, 2016. 36 p. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

5. Kavvadias K., Jimenez Navarro J.P., Zucker A., Quoilin S. Case Study on the Impact of Cogeneration and Thermal Storage on the Flexibility of the Power System. Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union, 2017. 40 p. DOI:10.2760/814708

6. Ericsson K., Svenningsson P. Introduction and Development of the Swedish District Heating Systems. Stockholm, Lund University, 2009. 54 p. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

7. Zimakov A.V. Opyt Shvetsii po ekologizatsii sistemy gorodskogo tsentral’nogo teplosnabzheniya na primere TETs “Vyartaverket” [Swedish experience in the greening of district heating on example of power station “Vartaverket”]. Russian Journal of Housing Research, 2018, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 383-398. DOI:10.18334/zhs.5.3.39382

8. Patronen J., Kaura E., Torvestad C. Nordic Heating and Cooling. Copenhagen, Nordic Council of Ministers, 2017. 113 p. DOI:10.6027/TN2017-532

9. Making Sweden an Oil-free Society. Commission on Oil Independence, 21 June 2006. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

10. Hansen C.H., Gudmundsson O. The Competitiveness of District Heating Compared to Individual Heating. Copenhagen, Green Energy Association, 2018. 53 p.

11. The Future of Heating: Meeting the Challenge. London, Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2013. 123 p. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

12. De Jong K. Times Are Changing for District Heating. Decentralized Energy, 2016, Jan. – Feb., pp. 4-8. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

13. The Potential and Costs of District Heating Networks. Oxford, Poyry Energy, 2009. 152 p. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

14. Decarbonisation of Heat in Europe: Implications for Gas Demand. Oxford, Institute for Energy Studies, 2018. 64 p. DOI:10.26889/9781784671105

15. Zimakov A.V. Transformatsiya energetiki v Germanii: sud’ba atomnoi i ugol’noi otrasli [German energy market transformation: from nuclear phase-out to coal fired plants shutdown]. Sovremennaya Evropa, 2017, no. 5(77), pp. 74-85.

16. State Aid: Commission Approves German Support to Cogenerated Electricity. Brussels, European Commission, 24.10.2016. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

17. Werner S. International Review of District Heating and Cooling. Energy, 2017, vol. 137, pp. 617-631. DOI:10.1016/

18. Martinopoulos G., Tsalikis G. Active Solar Heating Systems for Energy Efficient Buildings in Greece: Technical Economic and Environmental Evaluation. Energy and Buildings, 2014, vol. 68, part A, pp. 130-137.

19. Renewable Energy in District Heating and Cooling: a Sector Roadmap for Remap. Abu Dhabi, International Renewable Energy Agency, 2017. 112 p. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

20. An EU Strategy on Heating and Cooling. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the

European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. COM (2016) 51 final. Brussels, 16.2.2016. Available at: (accessed 21.02.2019).

21. Grosse R., Christopher B., Stefan W., Geyer R., Robbi S. Long Term Projections of Techno-Economic Performance of Large-Scale Heating and Cooling in the EU. Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union, 2017. 186 p. DOI:10.2760/24422

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

For citation:
Zimakov A. European Strategic Approaches to Heating Decarbonisation . World Eonomy and International Relations, 2019, vol. 63, no. 8, pp. 39-46.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 5
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • Are There Any Ways to Break Through the Korean Nuclear Impasse?
  • Contemporary U.S. Taiwan Policy: Balancing on the Edge
  • The Gulf Monarchies’ Vision of the Global Order Transformations and the Russian Place in It
  • At Post-Soviet Space
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.