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Excess heat – the untapped energy source

DENMARK: The vast potential energy savings and benefits of tapping into waste heat are being “politically overlooked” in the EU, a new report from Danfoss claims.

A new whitepaper from the Danish manufacturer highlights the estimated 2,860TWh/y of untapped excess heat – corresponding to nearly the total annual energy demand for heat and hot water in residential and service sector buildings in the EU.

Danfoss president and CEO Kim Fausing insists that initiatives that push for more efficient use of this excess energy would give a productivity boost to the economy, lower energy prices for consumers and businesses and accelerate the green transition.

Danfoss claims that full implementation of technologies that tap into synergies between different sectors and enable a utilisation of excess heat has the potential to save €67.4bn a year once fully implemented in 2050.

In addition, utilising the excess heat could replace significant amounts of fossil fuels and could help stabilise the future electricity grid and thereby ease the transition to a green energy system.

Danfoss argues that in some countries the excess heat can even match the entire heat demand. In the Netherlands, for example, excess heat amounts to 156TWh/y while the heat demand is only 152TWh/y.

“In the dialog about the energy crisis and the green transition, energy efficiency is often politically overlooked,” writes Martin Rossen, Danfoss’ senior vice president  head of group communication and sustainability. He cites energy efficiency not being as visible as renewable energy technologies and a failure to adequately explain the enormous potential of energy efficiency as reasons for the omission.

Kim Fausing: “We urgently need policy measures to accelerate the use of excess heat”

According to Kim Fausing, recycling heat is not only an overlooked measure in the current energy crisis, but also the next frontier of the green transition. “Excess heat is the world’s largest untapped source of energy. Still, very few initiatives have pushed for more efficient use of the vast amounts of wasted energy in the form of excess heat even though we already have the solutions available today. We urgently need policy measures to accelerate the use of excess heat across sectors, both so that citizens and businesses can benefit from lower energy costs and to ensure we step up progress in the green transition.”

The whitepaper references International Energy Agency figures that a global push for more efficient use of energy could reduce CO2 emissions by an additional 5GT/yr by 2030 compared with current policy settings. A third of the reduction needed in energy-related CO2 emissions this decade, according to the IEA net zero scenario, must come from improvements in energy efficiency.

“The potential in reusing excess heat is staggering but we need to change our perspective on it and begin to consider excess heat as an energy resource instead of waste to be disposed of,” adds Kim Fausing.

“Today there are a number of barriers that prevent us from reusing excess heat including lack of information and regulation. We have to introduce economic incentives, policy measures and prioritization of partnerships between local authorities, energy suppliers and energy sources to help maximise the full potential of excess heat.”

The whitepaper – The world’s largest untapped energy source: Excess heat – can be downloaded here

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