The commercial application of SDH is presently starting in some countries. In particular in Denmark, where solar district heating (SDH) is operated at feasible heat costs, the realisation of plants is booming. Newcomer SDH activities are developing e.g. in Italy, France, Spain and Norway.

In many cases district heating operators consider situations where heat from CHP and waste cover the base load as main obstacle for SDH, whereas new realisations demonstrate that CHP and solar can be combined efficiently. Innovative business models with SDH can create additional benefits. New opportunities need to be recognised, derived from the role of renewable district heating for implementing the EPBD recast and the Directive for the Promotion of Renewables. SDHplus is a follow-up project from SDHtake-off, which came to an end in June 2012.

SDHplus- New Business Opportunities for Solar District Heating and Cooling

Project duration
7/12 to 6/15 (3 years)

Total budget
1,88 Mio EUR

Supported by
EC-Programme IEE Intelligent Energy Europe

The aim of SDHplus is to foster the changeover of district heating to solar energy by:

  • developing and pilot implementing new business models for SDH focusing on situations, where renewable district heating is used for enabling buildings with high energy performance
  • the use of solar thermal in cases where CHP district heat is not anymore used for the base load due to high shares of wind energy and PV in the electricity grid and a resulting shift of the merit order
  • the integration of solar thermal into isolated heat networks without CHP and the substitution of heating-only plants
  • the use of the modern and environmentally friendly image as well as the high acceptance in society of solar energy for a wider diffusion and marketing of district heating

SDHplus further aims at the transfer of SDH know-how to six learning countries ES, FR, HR, LT, PL, SI as well as the institutionalising of high level dissemination events at European level.

Major outputs and expected results
More district heating stakeholders in more countries are active in realising SDH systems due to following outcomes of the project.

  1. New SDH business models and SDH marketing strategies open up new opportunities for DH suppliers and other market actors and thus create a relevant contribution to the market growth. Stakeholders committed to 18 pilot implementations of SDH business models and marketing strategies within the project. Lessons learned are disseminated.
  2. Show cases are created for integrating SDH into various specific district heating situations. These show cases respond to the market barriers of DH stakeholders (e.g. combination with CHP, high costs). Practical know-how is transferred to market actors, reliable data and new knowledge is made available and plant replication is stimulated. Within the project 39 case studies are developed in cooperation with DH market actors.
  3. SDH markets develop in the newcomer countries ES, FR, HR, LT, PL, SI. It is estimated that they can reach a capacity of 500 MWth until 2020. Within the project this is initialised by a one-to-one coaching of partners in these learning countries. 360 market actors will be trained and 120 involved into SDH activities.
  4. High level dissemination activities, in particular the international SDH workshops and plant visit tours aiming at coaching of district heating market actors and a new SDH conference are institutionalised. After the project these workshops and conferences shall continue as self-financed events organised by district heating associations. Within the project a participation of at least 1000 stakeholders to these events is expected.

Experts estimate that a progressive market development can lead to about 9 GWth of SDH installed in Europe until 2020. The activities of this proposal and its impact beyond the project will contribute to this market development. Indicatively the impact of the project on market growth can be quantified to +-20 % of the above figure.

SDHplus involves 18 partners in 13 European countries from associations, enterprises and institutes of the district heating and solar thermal sectors.

  • Solites, Steinbeis Research Institute for Solar and Sustainable Thermal Energy Systems – Germany (project coordinator)
  • AGFW, German Heat and Power Association
  • CIT Energy Management - Sweden
  • AIRU, Italian District Heating Association
  • Ambiente Italia - Italy
  • CityPlan – Czech Republic
  • PlanEnergi - Denmark
  • S.O.L.I.D. Company for Installation of Solar and Design - Austria
  • Tecnalia - Spain
  • Tecsol  - France
  • Energy Institute Hrvoje Pozar – Croatia
  • University of Lubljana, Slovenia
  • Lithuanian Energy Institute
  • AMORCE – France
  • EC BREC IEO – Poland
  • Euroheat & Power - Belgium
  • CEA – National Solar Energy Institute - France
  • Danish District Heating Association

The project is supported by industry enterprises of the solar thermal and the district heating sector.



Participate in the upcoming SDH events
Participate in the upcoming SDH events

Save the date! The 5th International Solar District Heating Conference will take place on 11 and 12 April 2018 in Graz, Austria.

See our event calender for other upcoming events

NEW Brochure and Project Leaflets
NEW Brochure and Project Leaflets
European Large Scale Solar Heating Plant Database
European Large Scale Solar Heating Plant Database
Download all SDH guidelines in one file
Download all SDH guidelines in one file
Find professionals
Find professionals
Click here to find business partners, component suppliers, consultants and service providers with long term experience on the field of solar district heating!
SDH related projects
SDH related projects

Discover other european RTD and policy projects related to solar district heating:

click here