WIT Press

Smart dual thermal network


Free (open access)

Paper DOI



Volume 2 (2017), Issue 4



Page Range

315 - 326




Conventional district heating (DH) systems enable demand aggregation at district level and can provide high centralized heat generation performance values. However, thermal Renewable Energy Sources (RES) deployment at building level still remains low, and exploitation suboptimal, as it is limited by the instantaneous thermal load and storage capacity availability of each building. Buildings play the role of consumers that request a variable amount of heat over time and the thermal network the role of unidirectional heat supplier, without any smart interaction. The FP7 project A2PBEER has developed an innovative Smart Dual Thermal Network concept based on RES and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) as generation technologies, that enables transforming existing suboptimal DH systems, into integrated thermal networks with optimized performance and building level RES system production exploitation. It is based on an innovative Smart Dual Building Thermal Substation concept, which allows a bidirectional heat exchange of the buildings with the thermal network, and to aggregate district level distributed production and storage capacity (Virtual District Plant). With this approach buildings become prosumers maximizing decentralized RES production exploitation, as any possible local heat production surplus on any building of the district, will be delivered to the network to be used by other buildings. Additionally, this thermal network allows the delivery of the energy necessary to meet the heating and cooling demand of the buildings through a single hot water distribution network. In this way, it is possible to upgrade conventional DH systems to district heating and cooling systems, without the construction of a district cooling plant and a dedicated cooling distribution network. Cooling is produced at building level through sorption technologies using locally deployed solar collectors and the thermal network as energy sources. Finally, the district typologies and climatic conditions that maximize the potential of this thermal network concept have been identified.


District heating, district cooling, distributed generation, smart grids, thermal substations.