Renewables can constitute up to 77% of the energy supplied to district heating energy systems by 2050, up from only 8% in 2017, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on Friday.
At present, much of this energy demand is met by burning fossil fuels, making the sector a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.
According to Integrating Low-Temperature Renewables in District Energy Systems, published in collaboration with Aalborg University, Denmark is the largest end-user of energy for heating, accounting for over 50% of global final energy consumption worldwide.
"In Europe, for instance, more than 25% of the EU population lives in areas directly suitable for geothermal district heating," the report said.
"Renewables can play a significant role in decarbonizing the way homes and businesses are heated," the agency said.
To overcome the challenges associated with the integration of low-temperature renewables into district heating and cooling, IRENA offers key recommendations.
The agency suggests developing strategic heating and cooling plans based on clear political drivers and by identifying relevant stakeholders, which can help reduce fossil fuels in the sector.
The report advocated for the mapping of relevant resources based on heating and/or cooling demand.
Other recommendations include upgrading networks to enable the integration of a change of supply and by promoting locally available renewables for heating and cooling.
The report also advised establishing enabling regulatory conditions, supportive financing options and business models.
By Gulsen Cagatay