A Digitalization Agenda for District Heating

By John Stouby Persson:
In this presentation, three directions are provided for the digital transformation of district heating.

District heating is crucial in creating a sustainable society by promoting efficient energy systems that reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions. By using waste heat and renewable energy sources, 4th generation district heating minimizes reliance on fossil fuels, enhances energy efficiency, and enables the transition towards more sustainable and resource-efficient energy consumption. For this transition to succeed, we need better digital assistance for house owners to make the energy renovations needed for low-temperature 4th-generation district heating.

From a longitudinal study of the digital energy assistant Watts being introduced in Aalborg's district heating area starting in 2019, the following three points are elicited on the digitalization agenda for district heating:

  1. Transitioning from nudging consumer behavior to one-time actions for energy reduction.
  2. Evolving from a background experience to new digitally mediated understandings of heating.
  3. Transitioning from building an infrastructure to engaging more stakeholders in digital infrastructuring.


By Alisa Ananjeva:
The digitalization of the energy sector toward smart energy requires strong partnerships and collaboration among multiple organizations. However, there is no clear path to guide partnering organizations in developing sustainable digital solutions. In this process, contradictions are inevitable because there are no right or wrong answers - only answers that are better or worse from different points of view. These different perspectives offer alternative explanations for the role of digital technology in enabling smart energy solutions. We present four competing concerns in the process of digitalizing toward a sustainable transition in the energy sector: Optimization, Eco-feedback, Reflection, and Participation. Through a longitudinal study of the digital energy assistant, Watts, being introduced in Aalborg's district heating area starting in 2019, we found that digitalizing for sustainable transitions involves reconciling these competing concerns. This process implies legitimizing the competing concerns, which is crucial for a successful digitalization toward a sustainable transition in the energy sector.

Daniel Russo, AAU
Date & Time
Thursday, November 9, 2023, 10:15 AM - 10:45 AM
Theater 4
Smart Energy

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