28 March 2022

Efficient district heating in CEE countries

While modern district heating systems can significantly contribute to the integration of renewable energy in order to decarbonise our energy system, many of the existing systems in Central and Eastern Europe are still highly inefficient and heavily reliant on fossil fuels, such as oil, fossil gas or coal. A robust EU policy framework and adequate funding instruments can pave the way to increase the energy efficiency of heating systems, introduce deep renovations, reduce emissions and allow the transition to fully renewables-based heating and cooling supply in combination with the reduction of energy needs. This would also contribute to alleviating energy poverty.

This briefing gives an introduction to the relevant provisions of the Energy Efficiency Directive and its impact on State aid and EU funds that help finance so-called efficient district heating systems. It includes examples of district heating programmes and projects that start transitioning towards higher energy efficiency and more sustainable renewable energy.

Lastly, policy recommendations for an ambitious revision of the heating and cooling provisions of the EED are given in order to pave the way to achieve climate neutrality by 2040 and avoid the risk of a lock-in into fossil fuels.