Decreasing the Return Temperature in District Heating Networks Thanks to a Switch to Alternative Substation Architectures




District Heating Networks, Substation Architectures, Return Temperature, Pre-Heating, Efficiency


District heating networks (DHN) are key systems for managing heating and reducing carbon emissions at a large scale. Therefore, increasing their efficiency is a key to reduce climate change. DHNs with centralized production are supplying hot water to building substations (interface between the DHN and the buildings) for domestic hot water (DHW) production and space heating (SH) using heat exchangers. Colder water is returned to the centralized district heating system by the return pipe. One of the crucial factors to improve the efficiency of DHNs is to decrease the return temperature in the network to keep the same amount of energy transferred to the buildings while reducing the thermal losses and the flow rate, leading to more savings. In this paper, we model and simulate two of the most common DHN substation architectures used in a typical third-generation DHN to identify their flaws and propose new district heating substation architectures that can increase the DHN efficiency. The main result from our study is the consistent reduction in the average return temperature across all scenarios when implementing our proposed architectures. The reduction ranged between 3.7 °C and 10.2 °C. We also found that the lower the heating temperature, the greater the reduction. This is particularly beneficial as buildings are increasingly equipped with low-temperature heating systems, especially new constructions. Moreover, these architectures showed optimal efficiency with new buildings that have a high water heating demand compared to heating demand. This is due to the higher impact of cold water preheating.


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How to Cite

Chardon, G., Patureau, R., & Gavan, V. (2024). Decreasing the Return Temperature in District Heating Networks Thanks to a Switch to Alternative Substation Architectures . International Sustainable Energy Conference - Proceedings, 1.

Conference Proceedings Volume


Future District Heating and Cooling