Low-temperature district heating: heating our homes at lower cost

Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy? shines a spotlight on research projects under development in the Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). Learn more about the initiative, read the launch commentary, or explore the TCPs.

Expanding and rebuilding existing and new district heating networks based on a low-temperature heat supply

What is the aim of this project?

This project aims to provide solutions for both expanding and rebuilding existing and new district heating networks, based on a low-temperature heat supply. The goal is to obtain a common development direction for buildings and communities for wide application of low-temperature district heating systems in the near future.

How could this technology be explained to a high school student?

Low-temperature district heating reduces the amount of energy lost in converting and transporting energy to buildings. It enables renewable and waste energy sources to be used for heating and cooling, such as solar thermal collectors, biomass-fired heating plants and large heat pumps. Low-temperature district heating is one of the most cost-efficient technology solutions for achieving 100% renewable and emission-free energy systems on a community scale.

What is the value of this project for society?

  • improves energy efficiency in the energy supply chain and enables the integration of renewable energy and waste heat
  • provides cost-effective energy for the local community
  • gives utility companies more flexibility in the materials used for district heating pipes and networks.

At what stage of development is this project?

The project began in 2012 and was successfully completed in 2017. Relevant information on components, technology, available design tools and successful realised cases was collected and published in the Future Low Temperature District Heating Design Guidebook. A follow-up project on market implementation challenges is under way.

What government policies could bring this from the lab to the market?

  • introducing low-temperature district heating standards into building regulations
  • implementing funding schemes for design studies and investment support for innovative low-temperature district heating networks
  • supporting the transformation of existing district heating systems to low-temperature networks. 

Development of the district heating technology (acc Frederiksen & Werner). © Fraunhofer IEE

Partners and funders


  • Fraunhofer IEE (lead)
  • Other national research sources and industry partners. 


  • The above partners funded this project.

Learn more

About the Technology Collaboration Programme on District Heating and Cooling including Combined Heat and Power (DHC TCP)

The DHC TCP conducts research and development as well as policy analysis and international co-operation to increase the market penetration of district heating and cooling systems with low environmental impact.

Contact: iea-dhc@agfw.de