DHC TREND - Overview of District Heating and Cooling Markets and Regulatory Frameworks under the Revised Renewable Energy Directive


District heating and cooling (DHC) is one of the main infrastructures of H&C, enabling decarbonisation in this sector through the efficient integration of large-scale renewable energy sources such as biomass, geothermal or solar thermal energy as well as the use of various forms of excess heat and free cooling. It can also provide flexibility in the electricity market through power-to-heat solutions with direct electric heating or large heat pumps. Due to their various advantages, DHC systems are in many ways the backbone for local energy transition strategies.

Despite these benefits and general interest in the wider use of DHC systems, there is still a significant data gap on DHC markets and regulations in Europe. This project therefore aims to provide a detailed picture for all EU Member States as well as for the UK, Norway, Iceland and Ukraine of the market and regulatory framework of DHC systems, urban regulations and the various technical possibilities to integrate renewable and excess heat and cold sources in local energy systems. Ten case studies are analysed in a holistic approach to illustrate current best practices and identify replicable, cost-efficient best practices in different environments.

As a project partner, Fraunhofer ISI will analyse the regulatory framework of DHC to provide a comprehensive overview and make a comparative analysis between the countries to derive policy and roadmap recommendations. Furthermore, Fraunhofer ISI will examine the perception and protection of DHC consumers to show the general image of DHC in the different countries as well as provide an in-depth analysis of consumer perception in three focus countries.


On 10 June 2022, the results were published in the final report.

The project provides a thorough in-depth analysis of DHC markets in the EU, the UK, Norway, Iceland and Ukraine. The topics covered within this project include:

  • Overview of the district heating and cooling sector in the EU Member States and other selected European countries
  • Regulatory regimes for district heating and cooling, in particular Third Parties Access (TPA), pricing mechanisms and support schemes
  • Technical conditions and requirements for access to district heating and cooling networks
  • Overview of smart metering in the heating and cooling sector
  • Renewable energy sources in district heating and cooling
  • Urban and spatial aspects of district heating and cooling
  • Use of waste heat and cold and how these sources are taken into account in the district's energy supply.


January 2020 to September 2021


European Commission, DG ENER


  • Tilia GmbH (project coordinator)
  • Technical University of Vienna
  • Oeko-Institut
  • IREES - Institute for Resource Efficiency and Energy Strategies
  • Fraunhofer ISI