Irish capital lobbies for district heating

Dublin City Council is trying to persuade the Irish government to fund district heating as part of its planned national subsidy scheme for renewable heating, which begins next year.

A report submitted to the government by the council, which was prepared by Codema, the energy agency for Dublin’s four local authorities, has concluded that 75% of the city is suitable for district heating, but the government must make capital available to help such projects into operation.
A newly developed waste-to-energy plant in Dublin
While the Poolbeg incinerator could provide heat for 50,000 homes, there are currently no plans to realise this potential.

Donna Gartland, a strategic sustainable-energy planner at Codema, told the Times such district heating would reduce households’ energy bills through economies of scale, and cut greenhouse gas emissions from buildings in Dublin city by at least 70%, saving 750,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

The Department of the Environment says it needs to focus on meeting a 2020 EU target for renewable heat as cost-effectively as possible. Ireland is likely to fall 2-2.5 percentage points short of its EU target of 12% renewable heating by 2020.

The government has ruled out including district heating in the scheme, citing the à‚ high capital cost of developing a district heating network and the need to introduce regulation of the sector.

Instead, the government is planning a renewable heat incentive for businesses similar to the controversial “cash for ash” scheme in Northern Ireland. The main flaw in the à‚£1bn (€1.2bn) Northern Ireland scheme was that there was no upper limit on the amount of renewable heating ࢀ” mostly from wood-pellet boilers ࢀ”but the Irish government scheme would have a budget cap and a mechanism to reduce the amount companies are paid over time. This would mean that the more they burn, the less they will earn.

Dublin city council argued that, instead of just incentivising businesses to install new renewable-heat systems, the government should also encourage the reuse of existing industrial heat that goes to waste.

The council said: “At present, an enormous amount of heat, produced mainly as a by-product of large industry, electricity generation stations and new large data centres, is simply discharged into the environment. In fact it costs most industries to cool plants and dump heat. District heating adds a value to this waste heat.”

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