Heat Pumps in Cities and Urban Districts

Heat Pumps in Cities and Urban Districts
© Fraunhofer ISE

In the coming years, the heat supply in cities and urban districts will increasingly be converted to climate-friendly technologies. With intelligent solutions, heat pumps can make an important contribution to the modernization and decarbonization of cities, districts and heating networks by also using the existing infrastructure.

Three types of heating network systems lend themselves to the integration of heat pumps in cities and neighborhoods: (1) cold local heating, (2) classic local heating and (3) district heating. The three variants differ in their fields of application. In the concept of cold local heating, the heat is generated decentrally and fed into a network that is operated at a low temperature level of 8 to 20°C. A classic local heating network is usually built around a single heating center in a neighborhood or residential complex. Increasingly, large heat pump systems are taking over this role and replacing or supplementing the fossil heat generator. District heating networks are existing systems and supply around 15% of Germany's heating requirements. 


  • With cold local heating networks, system temperatures can be kept low so that it is not necessary to insulate the pipes.
  • Due to the higher system temperature, classic local heating is particularly suitable for converting existing district networks (existing buildings).
  • Heat pumps can be used flexibly in district heating systems, for example to reduce the return temperature.

R&D on Heat Pumps in Cities and Urban Districts

  • Installation, operation, monitoring and system integration of heat pumps in district heating networks
  • Analysis of regulatory and economic framework conditions
  • Conceptual and metrological analysis of large heat pump systems
  • Technology assessment and economic considerations

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