Europe starts the clock on greening Soviet-era heating grids

(EurActiv, 9 Oct 2023) As Europe aims to reach climate neutrality by 2050, transforming the massive pipeline networks heating millions of homes poses a huge engineering challenge.

Heating grids are pipelines spanning cities, transporting hot water from power plants into homes. What originated from a Soviet fondness for centrally-planned solutions soon spread to Nordic countries after the 1970s oil crises.

Today, 12% of the EU’s heat and hot water needs are serviced by district heating, with the percentage going up to 40% in countries like Poland.

In Eastern EU countries, the water is heated chiefly by burning coal, but countries there will have to switch to greener alternatives in order to meet the EU’s climate neutrality goals.

Can they meet the challenge? 

“Meeting the requirements in Poland will require, depending on the scenario, expenditures of more than €90 billion to decarbonise the district heating sector,” said Pawel Szczeszek, president of the Polish district heating company PTEZ and vice-president of the country’s electricity industry association PKEE.

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EurActiv, 9 Oct 2023: Europe starts the clock on greening Soviet-era heating grids