A few weeks ago, we visited Stockholm to speak with local operators about making the opportunities provided by artificial intelligence available also to that area’s district heating companies and users. There is clear demand in Sweden – Swedes see highly developed district heating as an opportunity to protect the environment.

According to Svensk Fjärrvärme, the Swedish District Heating Association, district heating is the most commonly used heating solution in Sweden. For many reasons, Swedes’ enthusiasm about district heating to protect the environment has become even stronger in the last few years.

Firstly, district heating has become able to utilise a broad range of fuels. It is increasingly commonplace for the waste from Swedish households to end up at district heating plants, where it is turned into heat energy. In addition, the use of biofuel for production of district heating is increasing all the time – and the customers demand this too. For instance, Sweden’s City of Enköping reports proudly that its district heating is produced almost entirely with biofuels.

Secondly, as is suitable in circular-economy operations, the district heating companies may well utilise the additional heat created elsewhere. For instance, Fortum Värme in Stockholm has started a project, called Öppen Fjärrvärme, in which the company buys excess heat created by, for instance, data centres and corner shops, and then uses its district heating network to transfer that heat to Swedish homes for heating use.

Thirdly, new technologies can be cost-effectively utilised within the district heating network. Leanheat’s technology is an example of this. When use of fossil fuels is to be eliminated entirely, managing the consumption peaks becomes a difficult problem. Leanheat has the solution to precisely that problem, of reducing peak power loads. The proactive artificial intelligence shifts heating away from the expected consumption peaks and thereby prevents unnecessary heating, by responding to the actual temperatures in the flats and changes in the weather.

It is great to see that so many companies in Sweden are proud to speak of how they have switched from having their own oil-based heating to being district heating customers – in order to be more environmentally friendly. District heating provides good opportunities to protect the planet that is our home.

Vesa Jaakkola, VP Sales, International