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Fifth generation, Low temperature, high EXergY district heating and cooling NETworkS

Project Details

Project date: 
July, 2015 to June, 2018
Contact Person: 

Budget Information

EU contribution: 
Total cost : 
Funding programme: 
EE 13 - 2014/2015: Technology for district heating and cooling

Pilot Cities

  1. Bolzano
  2. Madrid

FLEXYNETS will develop, demonstrate and deploy a new generation of intelligent district heating and cooling (DHC) networks that reduce energy transportation losses by working at “neutral” (15-20°C) temperature levels. Reversible heat pumps will be used to exchange heat with the DHC network on the demand side, providing the necessary cooling and heating for the buildings. In this way, the same network can provide contemporary heating and cooling. Moreover, the heat normally rejected by buildings (for example through a common split unit), will be fed into the network by the heat pumps (which are working in “cooling mode”) and recycled by other heat pumps that are producing domestic hot water.

In the same way, these networks make it possible to recover and recycle waste heat available along the network path, even at very low temperatures, unlike traditional district heating networks that can harvest thermal energy only at high temperature (greater than 100°).

In urban contexts not exploiting district heating yet, this new generation network can represent the main heating and cooling system. In cities already making use of district heating, low temperature DHC networks can use thermal energy from the return pipes (in addition to waste heat), which is otherwise considered waste heat by the network utility. This allows them to sell additional energy with the same infrastructure, making the network more efficient and reducing the return temperature to the station.

The project aims to: 

  • do analysis and simulation of possible substations (including optimized solar solutions)
  • analyse possible network configurations
  • develop proper control strategies and smart metering solutions, and
  • test them in dedicated laboratories.