Smart and Flexible 100 % Renewable District Heating and Cooling Systems for European Cities


  • Solar thermal energy
  • Geothermal energy
  • Storage
  • Energy supply
  • Block & district heating
  • Market & policy
  • Energy concept


  • Study
  • Consulting
  • Technology transfer
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Pilot project
  • Market development


  • Public funds


03/2014 – 02/2017 (3 years)


1.4 m. EUR


The SmartReFlex project aims at increasing the diffusion of smart and flexible district heating and cooling (DHC) systems, basing on high shares of renewable energy sources (RES), in European cities. In order to reach this aim, a mixed project consortium was created, including:

  • Regional authorities, which have the power to improve the legislation framework for high-RES DHC and to stimulate local authorities and municipalities to develop real projects on the ground
  • DHC utilities, which bring both the needs of the industry and the technical expertise
  • Consultancy partners, which specific high-level skills on RES DHC and on energy planning at local level


EC-Programme IEE Intelligent Energy Europe


  • Steinbeis Research Institute Solites (DE)
  • AGFW (DE)
  • Ministry of Environment of Schleswig-Holstein and Baden-Württemberg (the last one by a declaration of commitment) (DE)
  • HIC Hamburg Institut Consulting GmbH (DE)
  • Ambiente Italia (coordinator, IT)
  • ANCI Emilia-Romagna (IT)
  • Italian district heating association AIRU (IT)
  • Kerry County Council (IE)
  • Tipperary Energy Agency (IE)
  • XD Sustainable Energy Consulting (IE)
  • IREC (ES)
  • Danish District Heating Association DFJ (DK)
  • PlanEnergi (DK)


During the time frame of the project six regions in four countries (Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain) will implement legislative and organisational measures for promoting high-RES DHC, also benefitting from the know-how transfer by the two Danish partner, bringing in the success story from Denmark.


The measures will include:

  • Improvement in regional legislation and framework, facilitating and supporting the implementation of high-RES DHC
  • Integration of high-RES DHC in heat planning at regional and local level
  • Creation of cooperatively-owned companies for managing high-RES DHC systems
  • Study, planning and supporting of new high-RES DHC projects at local level

In order to assure a correct implementation of these measures there will be set up a regional task force on high-RES DHC in each participating region and an ambitious capacity building activity will be carried out, aiming at involving the key stakeholders in the regions and also at national level in the participating countries. Key stakeholders are technical staff and city planners from municipalities in the region, other regional and local authorities in the country, technical and managing staff from DHC utilities, DHC industry, technical designers, cooperative unions, consumer protection associations and the financial sector. All stakeholders will be trained on the most adequate topics through working seminars in each participating region.


The key quantitative results foreseen are:

  • RES DHC capacity installed or planned up to 280 m. EUR (790 by 2020), corresponding to 14 new plants or modernisations of existing plants; this would mean 540,000 toe/year renewable energy production, 420,000 toe/year primary energy savings compared to projections and 1,248 kt CO2e/year reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
  • 20 municipalities or other market actors (e.g. DHC utilities) start activities with RES DHC
  • 18 working seminars are organized with 144 hours of training and 120 participants
  • 20 real case studies are developed and supported
  • Six regional permanent task forces are created with an average of ten relevant stakeholders
  • Public acceptance towards DHC will increase by 20 % in absolute terms
  • 500 participants reached in dissemination events, > 500 website visits per month, > 2000 downloads
  • Stakeholders replicate SmartReFlex models in more than ten cases

The SmartReFlex project aims at increasing the diffusion of smart and flexible district heating and cooling (DHC) grids and systems, basing on high shares of renewable energy sources (RES), in European cities.

Downloads and links

Thomas Pauschinger

This project has received funding from

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