Foto: Wohnzimmer- Haus Zeggele

OPEN HEAT GRID - Open Heat Grids in urban hybrid systems

The interaction between the existing electricity, gas and heat networks will grow stronger in the coming years which will pose new challenges for the energy markets and especially for an urban hybrid network. OPEN GRID HEAT examines different concepts for an open heat network and develops recommendations for its design as well as the associated demands for legislation and regulation.

Short Description




Description of the research question and initial situation

Currently, the heat, electricity and gas networks are hardly inter-linked. New technological developments allow for a close bi-directional linkage of these networks. Such a so-called hybrid networks can effectively deal with the ongoing restructuring of the energy market and are a highly efficient framework in which the costs associated with this restructuring process can be met. Especially in the context of primary energy efficiency and the avoidance of network expansions, hybrid networks can make a valuable contribution towards the development of a more sustainable energy system.

But these efforts towards a hybrid network present new challenges, in particular for urban energy networks. Urban energy networks differ from rural networks in that energy is supplied from the outside (they act as "energy sponges") and that the heat distribution network has greater significance (availability, storage).

Planned goals and chosen method

Future hybrid networks need a new market and regulatory design. The interplay of previously separate networks and markets can only function efficiently if the tariffs for electricity, gas and heat are dealt with simultaneously. On the one hand, this concerns the electricity and gas markets, which have a comparable market design but un-coordinated tariff systems. On the other hand, the markets for electricity/gas (unbundled, regulated) meet a monopolistic heating network in which the distributed feed-in in general and the use of industrial waste heat in particular are severely limited.

OPEN HEAT GRID takes an interdisciplinary approach, in which the economic, legal, technical and technological aspects of future hybrid system (and especially open heat networks) are taken into account. The chosen methodologies depend on the respective requirements of the work packages: legal analysis, research, micro-economic modelling, expert interviews and expert workshops as well as cost-benefit analyses are all applied where they are most adequate.

Representation of the expected results and findings

According to the objectives - and given the close bi-directional link of electricity and gas markets, which is already foreseeable in the short to medium run, from a technological point of view - an integration of the electricity and gas network tariffs is made (Result 1). Another focus of the project is the integration of industrial waste heat, but also of decentralized small-scale systems (eg micro-CHP in the future hybrid network) - which require an opening of the currently monopolistic heating network. A concept for such an Open Heat Grid is developed and undermined by an analysis of the legal and regulatory framework (Result 2).

There are different possible concepts for the design of an Open Heat Grid. In order to develop recommendations, these possible frameworks are compared and their demands towards the legal and regulatory aspects are evaluated. This evaluation involves all the relevant aspects.

Some of these aspects are

  • that the fixed costs of the network infrastructure must be met in the long term,
  • technical and technological developments,
  • that sunk costs that limit the legal / political risks may occur,
  • which objectives are pursued by the opening of the heat networks and in particular
  • which economic cost -benefit can be derived.

Project Partners

Project management

Energieinstitut an der Johannes Kepler Universität Linz

Project or cooperation partners

Contact Address

Energieinstitut an der Johannes Kepler Universität Linz
Dr. Andrea Kollmann
Altenberger Straße 69
A-4040 Linz
Tel.: +43 (732) 2468-5660

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