Solar district heating (SDH) plants are a large-scale solar thermal technology supplying renewable, zero-emission heat from large collector fields via district heating networks to residential and industrial areas. Long-term research programmes in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Austria led to SDH demonstration plants, operating today at feasible heat cost. Twenty years of operational experience, plant technology and know-how are available from these programmes. Since the mid of this decade there is an increased interest in the commercial operation of SDH, mainly by utilities but also from local authorities and the housing sector. SDH presently makes the step into the market.

SDH plants are usually operated by local district heat suppliers. They are the key actors for SDH. Therefore, five important national district heating associations (or groups) from Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy and the European roof association Euroheat & Power joined with acknowledged experts on the field of SDH for the SDHtake-off project. The project actions follow a comprehensive approach for a market introduction of SDH, contributing to a development to its full long term potential, which experts estimate at 5 % of district heat from solar and an annual solar heat production of 100 PJ.

SDHtake-off - Solar District Heating in Europe

Project duration
7/09 to 6/12 (3 years)

Total budget
1,17 Mio EUR

Supported by
EC-Programme IEE Intelligent Energy Europe

Through measures for improving the market boundary conditions and broad dissemination activities, the project contributes to the achievement of the European mid and long term objectives for solar district heating (9 GWth by 2020, 47 GWth long term).

In this project the partners analyze the market conditions and barriers leading to recommendations to policy and support scheme decision makers. District heating experts and industries together at one table with experts and industries of the solar thermal sector elaborate industry standards and guidelines for SDH, necessary for commercial activities on this sector. Capacity on the supply side is built up by training and support structures. Targeted dissemination activities will disseminate the project results in 18 European countries, motivate and support new market actors in more European countries to start activities on this field.


  • Reliable knowledge about the market conditions and barriers for SDH, translated into recommendations for regulations, support schemes, policy. These recommendations are communicated to decision makers.
  • Standard state-of-the-art industry standards and guidelines are available for commercial SDH activities. They are recognized by the European market actors of the DH and solar thermal sector.
  • Capacity on the supply side is built-up by training and support structures.
  • Targeted dissemination activities reaching market actors in 18 EU countries.

SDHtake-off is implemented in a cooperation of 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
  • Energie Graz - Austria
  • S.O.L.I.D. Company for Installation of Solar and Design - Austria
  • Marstal District Heating – Denmark
  • PlanEnergi - Denmark
  • AIRU, Italian District Heating Association
  • Ambiente Italia - Italy
  • Association for District Heating of the Czech Republic
  • CityPlan – Czech Republic
  • Euroheat & Power - Belgium
  • CIT Energy Management - Sweden
The project is supported by industry enterprises of the solar thermal and the district heating sector.
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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
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