Most district heating (DH) networks are largely based on fossil or biogenic fuels. As these fuels are phased out or their use will be prioritized for other sectors respectively, significant amounts of alternative heat sources (heat pumps, waste heat, solar and geothermal energy) will be required. However, there are various uncertainties regarding the development of key factors such as energy prices and the availability of alternative heat sources. In addition, individual heat supply systems are competing with DH networks. This paper quantifies the economic risks of DH networks with respect to uncertainties in energy prices (electricity and biomass) and waste heat availability and compares them with individual heating systems. Therefore, a hypothetical inter-regional heat transfer network (“HTN”) in Austria is investigated as a case study and a Monte Carlo approach based on seasonal energy balances is used. The results show that in individual heating systems, uncertainties in energy prices have a strong influence on the economic risks. In contrast, HTNs can optimize the use of industrial waste heat at stable prices and integrate large scale heat pumps operating at low electricity prices as well as combined heat and power plants operating at high electricity prices, leading to a reduced dependency on the uncertainties of energy prices and thus a lower economic risk.
- Integrated Energy Systems