Project Period

03/2014 – 02/2017


The SmartReFlex project aimed at increasing the diffusion of smart and flexible district heating and cooling (DHC) grids and systems, based on high shares of renewable energy sources (RES), in European cities.

Six regions in four countries (Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain) implemented, legislative and organisational measures for promoting high-RES DHC.

In order to assure a correct implementation of these measures a regional task force on high-RES DHC was set up in each participating region.

An ambitious capacity building activity was carried out, aiming at involving the key stakeholders in the regions and also at national level in the participating countries.

Results and perspectives

The project has stimulated the development of renewable district heating projects in the six regions in Spain, Italy, Germany and Ireland.

A number of case studies have been elaborated and some of these are continuing development towards implementation.

The capacity building implies that activities of developing new projects will continue, potentially resulting in implementation of more projects.

The major outputs of the SmartReFlex project are:

  1. The six participating regions implement a RES DHC favourable framework (legal, energy planning, organisational and financial framework) and support RES DHC market development.
  2. Capacity is built-up and know-how is transferred to relevant stakeholder groups in the participating forerunner regions. These stakeholder groups are involved in the project activities and ownership to the project is created.
  3. New RES DHC investments are made (planned, in progress or built) due to WP4 support activities and dissemination, including both new DHC plants and/or RES in existing DHC systems.
  4. Authorities, stakeholders and market actors in states and regions beyond the project target areas replicate the SmartReFlex activities due to the intense dissemination.
  5. Project results, solutions and structures are endorsed by relevant bodies and stakeholder associations, guaranteeing the sustainability of the project and impact beyond the project lifetime.

The key quantitative results foreseen are:

  • RES DHC capacity installed or planned up to 280 Mio. € (790 by 2020), corresponding to 14 new plants or modernisations of existing plants; this would mean 540,000 toe/year renewable energy production, 420,000 toe/year primary energy savings compared to projections and 1,248 kt CO2/year reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,
  • 20 municipalities or other market actors (e.g. DHC utilities) start activities with RES DHC,
  • 18 working seminars are organized with a total of 144 hours of training and 120 participants,
  • 20 real case studies are developed and supported,
  • 6 regional permanent task forces are created, with an average of 10 relevant stakeholders,
  • public acceptance towards DHC will increase by 20 % in absolute terms,
  • 500 participants reached in dissemination events, > 500 website visits per month, > 2000 downloads,
  • stakeholders replicate SmartReFlex models in more than 10 cases.

Key PlanEnergi activities:

PlanEnergi was the leader of Work Package 3 concerning capacity building, comprising workshops on “Design and planning”, “Technical” and “Organisation and financing” in close cooperation with the partners in the regions.

PlanEnergi supports the development of the case studies (WP4) in the regions.

Project Manager at PlanEnergi: Per Alex Sørensen