Increasing efficiency in district heating systems through the implementation of modern IT technologies

June 10, 2024

How the implementation of IT solutions helps regulate heat production and consumption to ensure efficient district heating was discussed at a seminar organized by the USAID Energy Security Project (USAID ESP) together with the Ministry for Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine (the Ministry of Infrastructure). The fifth technical seminar on efficient district heating systems and new solutions attracted about 300 representatives of local authorities and district heating companies. 

In her welcoming remarks, Natalia Khotsianivska, Director of the Utility Department at the Ministry of Infrastructure, noted that to provide millions of Ukrainians with district heating and hot water services, heat supply companies must ensure proper operation of generating facilities and heating networks, and ensure the smooth operation of equipment under design parameters. At the same time, the technical condition of the networks and equipment has often exhausted its resources, which is reflected in the number of accidents, heat losses, and, accordingly, overuse of energy resources. 

“The Ministry’s priority is the energy-efficient modernization of heat supply companies. We have already developed a draft state target economic program for the energy modernization of heat energy producers being in state or municipal ownership for the period up to 2030. The main objectives of the program are to facilitate the development of heat supply schemes, the implementation of one hundred percent heat metering, modernization and overhaul of networks and heat generation sources, the use of renewable heat sources, waste heat and dispatching systems,” said Ms. Khotsianivska. 

The cooperation between the Ministry of Infrastructure and USAID ESP, including jointly organized technical training seminars for heat supply companies, will facilitate the implementation of energy efficiency measures and the use of modern technological solutions in district heating systems to ensure the sustainability and quality of service to consumers. 

Diana Korsakaite, District Heating Sector Lead at USAID ESP, said that modern district heating systems require efficient technologies for both heat production and supply, as well as effective ways to monitor and control heat flows in real-time. Therefore, IT technologies are critical to managing district heating systems and increasing the quality of heat supply services while helping to save energy resources and reduce costs. 

“This is extremely important, so we proposed to include IT technologies in the state target program of the Ministry of Infrastructure. The project’s experts also include a section on IT technologies in all city heat supply schemes developed by USAID ESP,” said Diana Korsakaite. 

The use of an IT system in heat production simplifies and optimizes the process of collecting operational information for making urgent decisions; allows remote access operations, such as switching on or switching over heat networks; hydraulic balancing; and makes it possible to integrate various energy sources into district heating systems, such as renewable energy sources (solar, geothermal, waste heat in the system, etc.). In addition, IT systems create conditions for the digital transformation of energy production and energy data management in general. 

During the seminar, participants learned about the best practices of applying technical solutions and the practical experience of individual companies in implementing IT systems at municipal heat supply companies and found out what effect this can have. 

Iryna Shyta, Head of the Service Department at Viessmann, spoke about the possibilities of using IT technologies to regulate and control heat production when installing various types of equipment. In particular, the expert provided an overview of Viessmann’s multivalent installations based on various energy sources and technologies and described the specifics of their application and control systems. 

Vladyslav Shynkar, Head of the Automation Systems Department at TEKHNOSTAR ENERGOPROEKT, presented energy data management systems (EDMS) and the prerequisites for digital transformation in energy production. The expert said that as part of digitalization, enterprises in Ukraine are solving the tasks of creating a real-time data infrastructure, increasing the efficiency of production activities, using predictive diagnostics of equipment, creating digital twins, and predictive analytics to optimize costs. 

Dmytro Rohozhyn, Director of Zhytomyrteplokomunenergo, spoke about the experience of his company in operating the SCADA automation system. The installation of an automated system for managing and controlling the operation of the district heating system enabled the company to quickly analyze and make decisions on equipment operation, reduce energy (gas) consumption by about 30% and electricity consumption by about 15% to 20%, and reduce heat transfer liquid losses in the network. According to the expert, the main advantages of implementing automation systems at the enterprise include the availability of digital analytics, a warehouse system that allows working with different sources of heat supply, a metering system, an automated workplace, etc. In addition, the utility expert shared his experience in financing the implementation of modern IT technologies and the creation of digital systems at the enterprise. 

Kyrylo Baranchuk, technical support engineer at Danfoss, spoke about the most common technical solutions for individual heat supply stations in Ukraine and the main components to achieve the highest efficiency. In addition, in his presentation, the expert gave an example of the city of Zhytomyr and spoke about systems that allow connecting the district heating network directly to the building. 

Vadym Lytvyn, Director of the CEE (Center of Efficient Energy Use), presented energy monitoring and management systems for heat supply stations and heat consumption. According to the speaker, automated energy monitoring systems make it possible to: 

– optimize heat energy consumption at the level of buildings connected to the district heating system; 

– optimize fuel consumption in the boiler room; 

– build fuel-production-loss balance in networks; 

– create piezometric graphs; 

– receive integrated information on emergencies; 

– control heat supply quality indicators, including internal temperature control; 

– bill based on data received directly from metering units. 

The next technical seminars in the series of nine educational efficient district heating events will focus on the district heating systems themselves and will discuss the topic of low-temperature systems.