Challenges of district heating

During the peer review held on 12 November in Miercurea Ciuc, we heard a lot of interesting information about the town’s energy supply.

 

One of the major challenges the town is facing is district heating: in recent years, 35% of the users have been disconnected from the system, due to high prices. A significant part of the infrastructure has been modernized, though – pipelines have been insulated, and new boilers have been installed. Several pellet boilers have also been integrated into the system. In 2009, 1900 tons of pellet was burned, thus, ca. 15% of the heat supply came from pellet.

 

This trend, however, ended soon, as the market price of pellet has gone up significantly in Romania (from 23 to 38 € / MWh). According to experts, pellet can be sold at rather high prices in Germany and Austria, causing a dramatic rise in domestic price level in Romania – and several other countries of the region as well.

 

Due to this and the fact that natural gas is relatively cheap in Romania (28 € / MWh), pellet has lost its competitiveness compared to gas heating. Currently, only 5-6% percent of the produced heat comes from burning pellet.

 

As it can be seen from the serious drop in the number of households using dictrict heating, consumers are very sensitive to energy prices. Thus, lowering the prices and costs of the service is crucial, and at the same time, a key challenge.