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Decarbonised District Heat, Electricity and Synthetic Renewable Gas in Wind- and Solar-Based District Energy Systems

Original scientific paper

Journal of Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems
ARTICLE IN PRESS (volume and issue assigned later), 1080340
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13044/j.sdewes.d8.0340
Robert Weiss , Heidi Saastamoinen, Jussi Ikäheimo, Rinat Abdurafikov, Teemu Sihvonen, Jari Shemeikka
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, P.O. Box 1000, 02044 VTT, Espoo, Finland


Low availability of sustainable biomass prevents transition of district heating in Europe away from fossil fuels. The need for sustainable fuels stems from current energy generation structure, which mainly relies on centralised combined heat and power operated as baseload units. Our study shows that districts with generation of renewable power, heat and synthetic natural gas can reach complete energy system decarbonisation even without biomass, only using wind and solar power as primary energy. It requires rethinking of interactions between electricity, gas and heating networks and a polygeneration solution with power-to-heat and power-to-gas technologies to fully utilise local solar and wind power and cover peak demands. Power-to-heat as baseload units supported with power-to-gas for seasonal and back-up energy storage are proposed as novel district heating approach. The operation of such polygeneration is tested successfully using a model of a Finnish district. Carbon dioxide circulation is analysed together with capacity requirements to synthetic natural gas and needed wind power installation. Resulting complete decarbonisation requires coordination and flexible operation of power-to-heat and power-to-gas capacity together with gas-fired combined heat and power plants and heat-only boilers, which ensures that renewable power production, heating and power needs, security of supply and grid limitations are met.

Keywords: Renewable energy, Decarbonisation, District heating, Sector coupling, Polygeneration, Power-to-gas, Power-to-heat, Synthetic gas.

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