Public consultation on future EU strategy for smart sector integration

How the EU's flagship initiative for the future energy market should provide a springboard for empowering local heating & cooling



David Donnerer
Julien Joubert
Francisco Gonçalves

Publication date


Related legislative initiative

EU Electricity Market Rules

In its answer to the EU Commission consultation on the future EU strategy for smart sector integration, Energy Cities called for the future strategy to:

Embrace the full potential for synergies between local district heating and cooling grids with electricity and gas networks

A truly integrated energy system consistent with a pathway to a climate-neutral Europe goes beyond a mere traditional approach to gas and electricity generation and transmission. The energy system integration approach that will leverage the greatest amount of benefits, synergies, energy efficiency and cost-efficiency potential, is an approach that is anchored in a holistic European concept of integration that fully embraces the potential for synergies between local district heating grids with gas and electricity networks and establishes a correspondingly broad vision of European energy infrastructure design and finance. A truly sector integration approach should not only increase the use of renewable electricity but also the development of renewable thermal energies (e.g. solar thermal and geothermal energy) and of waste heat recovery.

Rely on cities’ proven experience in implementing sector integration on the local level

An EU energy sector integration strategy that “thinks local first” needs to leverage cities’ proven experience in implementing sector coupling on a local scale. Waste heat recovery from industry to feed local heating & cooling needs is already underway in cities like our member Delft in the Netherlands (from the port of Rotterdam), or Hamburg in Germany (from the local copper plant). In the city of Stockholm e.g., the district heat supplier has introduced a heat market called Open District Heating that allows data centers, supermarkets and industries to sell excess heat into the network. Taking full advantage of local district heating and cooling as a carbon-free energy carrier, energy storage potential and platform for integration is a no-regret option for the EU’s energy sector integration strategy that can make the EU the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Leverage the critical role of waste heat and other waste resources

The use of waste heat and other waste resources plays a critical role in the future EU energy sector integration strategy. At the local level, cities are already widely using waste heat recovery, as it is carbon-free or low carbon heat, increases the efficiency of the whole energy system and comes at a low price. Moreover, in these approaches, different renewable and residual energy sources can be integrated in one system, with sources such as e.g. solar thermal, geothermal, PV, biomass or excess heat from sewage water. In order to foster more these approaches, district heating and cooling, waste, wastewater and water sectors should be seen more in synergy, by pricing the cost of running such a system on its entirety and not its components. Local authorities are best placed to evaluate the cost optimum of the sector integration and the trade-off between energy efficiency and energy production, based on their local resources and contexts.

Read our full answer to the consultation in the attached paper (in English)!