The CELSIUS – Smart District Energy project won the Public Sector category of the EU Sustainable Energy Awards, which were presented in June 2017 as part of EU Sustainable Energy Week. The project brings together over 60 European cities to pool knowledge and ideas about district heating and cooling (DHC) systems. Helena Nordström, CELSIUS Communication and Market Outreach officer, explains how it works.
1. Where did the idea for the CELSIUS project come from?
The idea for CELSIUS originated in the city of Gothenburg’s engagement in the Smart Cities and Communities Industrial Initiative in 2011. The city’s response, Göteborg Smart City, focused on developing Gothenburg as an innovation arena and broadening the city’s long-term climate work. In the first round of calls, the City of Gothenburg applied for all three – Demonstration of nearly Zero Energy Building Renovation for cities and districts, Strategic sustainable planning and screening of city plans, and Heating and cooling technologies for large-scale systems for urban areas, and won in all three with the programmes EU GUGLE, STEP UP, and CELSIUS respectively. With CELSIUS, the city of Gothenburg wanted to work more specifically in knowledge transfer and development, policy issues, networking, business development, and reducing climate change.
2. Can you explain how the project is organised?
The city of Gothenburg and the utility company Göteborg Energi AB are lead partners in CELSIUS and work closely together. The other cities in the project are the London Borough of Islington, Rotterdam, Cologne and Genoa. Following the triple helix model, there are twenty partner organisations from these five cities from municipalities, utility companies and academia, and all of them have an important role to play in developing the district heating and cooling market. The project is divided into eight work packages. Work package 1 is responsible for project management, work package 3 the demonstration projects, and work package 4 the monitoring of the demonstration projects. Work package 5 is working with the technology and innovation aspects of DHC, work package 2 integration and specification, and work package 6 non-technical topics such as finance, policies, and end-user acceptance. Finally work package 7 has created a strategy to disseminate the tools developed in CELSIUS, and work package 8 is responsible for communication and market outreach.
3. What has the impact of the project been on the cities taking part?
CELSIUS has built ten new demonstration projects to add to the twenty existing ones and accumulated knowledge in work packages 2 to 7. One of the goals of CELSIUS was to recruit 50 CELSIUS Member Cities, and that goal was reached in March last year; today there are 66. From the beginning our focus has been to create value for the Member Cities, and we have done that in many different ways. We have collected all project findings and knowledge into a CELSIUS Wiki, a DHC online resource. We offer knowledge transfer webinars and workshops, the latter with study visits to our demonstration projects. We have produced position papers on EU legislation during, among other things, directive consultations to make sure district energy solutions have a level playing field with other heating and cooling solutions. And we have kept growing and strengthening the CELSIUS network to not only include the CELSIUS Member Cities and the partner organisations with CELSIUS Experts, but also what we call CELSIUS City Supporters, other DHC stakeholders, such as the private sector, other EU projects, NGOs, and academia. All of these are important as we continue planning, developing and optimising smart heating and cooling systems.
4. What does winning an EU Sustainable Energy Award mean to you?
Winning an EU Sustainable Energy Award is a great honour and a testament that we are doing something valuable. The award means attention, and district heating and cooling is worthy of the attention for its elegant simplicity: to transport and use thermal resources, some of which would otherwise go to waste.
5.What are the future plans for the project?
We are investigating how CELSIUS can live on after December 2017, when the project officially ends. We are not only working to inspire cities, utility companies and end users to choose smart district heating and cooling solutions but if, as was said during the Sustainable Energy Awards ceremony, CELSIUS “'has put district heating and cooling on the European map', we have the best of opportunities to keep contributing to energy efficient solutions, comfort, cleaner air, resilient and secure heat sources and job opportunities. Several organisations are interested in continuing the work CELSIUS has begun, so now it is a matter of finding the right organisational structure for the next phase and continuing the good work.
Right now, we are planning the CELSIUS Summit – The Power of Networks, a district energy conference that will offer a meeting place for our growing network and discussions and presentations on technological development, finding the right solution for cities and overcoming key challenges. You can find out more here.