IEA DHC - District Heating and Cooling

Increasing energy end-use efficiency and using more renewable energy are key factors in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Grid-based supply systems for heating (and cooling) play a crucial role in this. These can reduce the consumption of fossil fuels by using industrial waste heat and renewable energy sources such as solar thermal power.

The Technology Collaboration Programme on District Heating and Cooling (DHC TCP) is concerned with the design, performance, and operation of generation and distribution systems as well as consumer installations. Various research, development, and demonstration projects are conducted in the context of the DHC TCP.

Experts in the programme work on research topics such as the design, performance, and operation of heating and cooling networks. This work spans the entire process from the generation and distribution of heating or cooling to the delivery to the end customer. Combined heat and power (CHP) plants are of great relevance to the technologies used, in part because of the growing importance that electricity plays in meeting global energy demand. One benefit is that the heat that is produced by electricity generation through CHP can be recovered.

The use of industrial waste heat or solar thermal power for heating, and the use of ground water or heat-driven cooling to cool buildings, also play a key role in the DHC technology programme. Energy can be distributed in large-scale grids with either a central generator or multiple decentralized generators, as well as in smaller autonomous power systems.

In order to cut down on greenhouse gases, the IEA’s technology programme recommends first reducing the energy end-use demand. Analyses should then be conducted to determine which of the measures listed above should be considered for use. Efficient use of fossil fuels should not have to be taken into consideration until the stated options have been investigated.


Year of foundation: 1983

Type of financing: cost-shared (since 1983) and task-shared (since 2012)
Member States: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, China, Finland, France, Germany, Korea, Norway, Sweden, UK

Current projects

Annex TS5 - Integration of Renewable Energy Sources into existing District Heating and Cooling Systems
Annex TS4 - Digitalisation of District Heating: Optimised Operation (and Maintenance) of District Heating and Cooling Schemes via Digital Processes Management
Annex TS3 - Hybrid Energy Networks: District heating and cooling networks in an integrated energy system context
Annex TS2 – Implementation of Low Temperature District Heating Systems
Annex XII:
(1) Effects of Loads on Asset Management of the 4th Generation District Heating Networks
(2) MEMPHIS - Methodology to evaluate and map the potential of waste heat from industry, service sector and sewage water by using internationally available open data
(3) Integrated Cost-effective Large-scale Thermal Energy Storage for Smart District Heating and Cooling
(4) Stepwise transition strategy and impact assessment for future district heating systems
(5) Sustainable District Cooling Guidelines


Delegate: Carsten Magaß, Germany, c.magass(at)

Alternate: Dr. Heiko Huther, Germany, h.huther(at)



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