lowTEMP4districtheat - Reduction of the system parameters of heating networks for the integration of renewable heat sources using soft sensors

Analysis of the use of soft sensors in addition to selective real measurements for the complete recording of real-time parameters of heating networks. The data obtained enable detailed grid simulations with low computing power requirements and form the basis of a strategy for lowering the grid temperatures and feeding in decentrally generated heat.

Short Description



Starting point / motivation

The new version of the EU guideline "on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources", which will come into force in Austria in 2021, will require heating network operators to know the utilization of their heating network in detail in the future.

Based on this knowledge, decisions have to be made as to whether and under what circumstances a lowering of the network temperatures is possible and whether and when decentralized heat generators can feed into the heating network. 

So far, dynamic network simulations, which are absolutely necessary for the analysis of hydraulic interventions in the network, have been based on the largest possible databases of historical data and real-time data from the heating network. In practice, however, many (sometimes outdated) heating networks in Austria have an inadequate measuring infrastructure.

Furthermore, the General Data Protection Regulation created additional hurdles with regard to data acquisition. This means that detailed dynamic network simulations are often not possible.

Contents and goals

In order to enable a quick and detailed analysis of a heating network despite insufficient data, lowTEMP4districtheat uses a new, cost-effective approach with soft sensors. Soft sensors have been used in the process industry for many years in order to use simulations to record the operating states at various locations of reactors in real time, where conventional measurements are not possible.

This simulation approach supplements selective real measurements and can also be used for heating networks. The use of soft sensors saves extensive and cost-intensive measurement infrastructure and enables simple retrofitting of existing heating networks.

LowTEMP4districtheat aims to develop a real-time measurement strategy based on soft sensors for existing heating networks (retrofit) and network simulation with low computing power requirements.

Furthermore, operating and control solutions for a differentiated network management with heterogeneous network parameters (temperatures, pressure levels etc.) as well as possibilities for the conversion of heat consumers to lower system parameters are examined and recommendations for action for the reduction of the network parameters are derived.


After a survey of the technical framework and the elaboration of modeling approaches for different network types and sizes, mathematical basics of thermohydraulic modeling of heating networks using soft sensors are developed. The simulation model is then set up, with ongoing validation using real data from reference networks.

Based on the results of simulations of various applications, control strategies are developed with real-time control algorithms that are compatible with selected controller modules available on the market.

The combined results form the basis of discussions in an expert workshop, which in turn form the basis for recommendations for action.

Expected results

  • Real-time measurement strategy based on soft sensors for existing heating networks (retrofit).
  • Network simulation based on soft sensors with low computing power requirements.
  • Operating and control solutions for differentiated network management with heterogeneous network parameters (temperatures, pressure levels, etc.).
  • Recommendations for action for lowering the network parameters and the related conversion of heat consumers.

Project Partners

Project management

4ward Energy Research GmbH

Project or cooperation partners

  • Hoval Gesellschaft m.b.H
  • Energieagentur Obersteiermark GmbH
  • Prozess Optimal CAP GmbH

Contact Address

4ward Energy Research GmbH
DI Dr. Markus Rabensetiner
ReininghausstraƟe 13a
A-8020 Graz
Tel.: +43 (664) 882 518 30
E-mail: markus.rabensteiner@4wardenergy.at
Web: www.4wardenergy.at