The Interreg North-West Europe project HeatNet is a striking example of how old industrial infrastructure can be used as a source of energy for local DHC-grids (District Heating and Cooling Grids). By making use of groundwater from old, flooded mineshafts, local distribution grids spread lukewarm water to heat buildings. The water is then heated to the necessary temperatures by heat pumps in the connected buildings. And during warm periods the water can be used for cooling. Through this method, only half the energy required by other models is needed.

This technical innovation, driven by developments by the company Mijnwater in The Netherlands, has implications for the development of new policies and strategies as well. Currently, the method is being applied in six test cases in Heerlen (The Netherlands), Dublin (Ireland), Aberdeen (Scotland), Plymouth (England), Kortrijk (Belgium) and Boulogne-sur-Mer (France). The wish to expand the project’s scope to additional cities has been expressed by the project management. This calls for new strategies to upscale the network in other parts of Europe. The strategies should outline the revised institutional and organisational arrangements, as well as the new regulation and policy developments that are essential for success. 

HeatNet will run until 2019. The project can function as inspiration for the partners of the Interreg Europe projects that focus on renewable energy policy improvement (e.g. BIO4ECO), projects that focus on improving policies on smart grids (e.g. SET-UP), and projects on local energy infrastructure (e.g. COALESCCE), as well as to other regions in Europe seeking innovative and efficient solutions for heating and cooling grids. 

For more information, please visit the project’s website.

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