District heating has become the favored method of heating in many cities in Europe. It has also risen in popularity and use throughout much of the rest of the world. This idea is actually more than 100 years old. It started in 1903 in Moscow, Frederiksberg and Copenhagen, all in the same year.
District heating systems as a modern concept were designed and introduced in the 1980's (with constant breakthroughs since then), with automatic control, remote monitoring and unmanned operations. The concept binds together available heat sources which otherwise would be wasted for heating or to produce cooling.
Many district heating networks use cogeneration, or combined heat and power (CHP). Cogeneration is the production and use of electricity and heat simultaneously from a given power source. The sources for CHP typically are: heat from waste incineration, waste from power production, industrial waste and biofuel boilers. Solar and geothermal energy are sources of renewable energy that are also used. The market has further developed through the conversion of natural gas into the district heating supply to customers.
For any modern city with a dense population, this type of system offers the most significant contribution to ensuring energy efficiency that's readily available. District heating is used in many cities (especially in Europe), but needs to be used more in major cities throughout the world.
Geothermal District Heating in Iceland
Situated directly on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland is one of the most geothermally active locations in the world. The country experiences moderate summers and often bone-chilling winters. An environmentally friendly solution, that takes advantage of the country's geographic position, while meeting the unique needs of the residents and businesses dealing with the often chilly climate, is sensible.
The use of geothermal district heating in Iceland began nearly 100 years ago. Over the past 84 years, the country and its citizens have worked diligently to perfect the system. The people and government have transformed Iceland into one of the global leaders of this. The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, kicked things off in 1930 with a small elementary school and an infant version of the technology.
Today, the city provides heat to 95% of the over 120,000 population with geothermal district heating. The remaining 5% is supplied by some traditional methods, as well as geothermal power, affording residential and business owners the option of electric heating and space heating.
Outside of Reykjavik, the use of geothermal district heating in Iceland is widespread. Almost 90% of the heating and hot water in the country is provided via geothermal heating, while petroleum, coal and other sources make up the remaining percentage; however Iceland also uses geothermal power as over 50% of its energy source, some of which goes towards electric heating systems.