Is District Heating a cost-effective solution to decarbonise Irish buildings?

A new paper by MaREI researchers Jason Mc Guire, Hannah Daly, Fionn Rogan and Andrew Smith entitled ‘Is District Heating a cost-effective solution to decarbonise Irish buildings?’ is now available to read here. 


Achieving decarbonisation of the heating sector is a major challenge, especially in Ireland, which has the lowest proportion of renewable heat in Europe. In economically pursuing ambitious and equitable climate targets, Ireland’s Climate Action Plan 2023 set a goal of reaching 2.5 TWh of district heating by 2030, starting from a limited existing capacity. This pioneering study explores supply sources and heat density demand cohorts to develop a model to understand district heating in a low-deployment region, using Ireland as a case study. We also conduct a sensitivity analysis considering different connection rates.

Our research demonstrates that district heating is pivotal in achieving optimal decarbonisation pathways. Incorporating district heating reduces marginal CO2 emission prices by 13%–25%. Additionally, with feasible growth limits applied, total savings for the energy system are anticipated to reach €17.2 billion by 2050. This reduction of emissions in the building sector, facilitated by district heating, allows for greater emissions allowances in other sectors and reduces reliance on electricity while meeting climate targets. These insights highlight the need for spatial energy policies and deepen our understanding of integrating district heating within an energy system optimisation model.

You can read the full paper here.