Centre of Applied Research Technology

Application of low-temperature heating network in the city (HeatNet)

International research project HeatNet analyses the roll-out of fourth generation heating network in six Northern European cities


We aim to make our cities future-proof. Among other things, this means that our cities must become energy-neutral. Switching to district heating and cooling (DHC) networks forms an important part of this energy transition. Heating networks use residual heat, such as heat left over from industry, power plants or waste processing plants, to heat urban areas. This heat can be used to heat tap water and for domestic heating.


Heating networks have existed for almost 150 years. The first heating networks were introduced in 1880. Traditionally, they require high temperatures.

Due to new technologies in buildings, such as the emergence of new heat pumps (an alternative to central heating) and underfloor heating, these high temperatures are no longer necessary. For this reason, a new generation of heating networks that operate at much lower temperatures (just 30°C to 70°C) is being developed.

These new heating networks are called fourth generation heating networks, or 4DHC. They have a number of advantages. As a result of the lower temperatures:

  • there are more suitable sources of residual heat;
  • less heat is lost during transport.

However, the implementation of this new generation of heating networks requires a new policy. HeatNet is contributing to this.


The project consists of six pilot projects (living labs) in Kortrijk (Belgium), Heerlen (Netherlands), Dublin (Ireland), Aberdeen and Plymouth (Great Britain) and Boulogne-sur-Mer (France). These cities are testing and improving the HeatNet model.

The AUAS is tasked with analysing the progress of these pilots by conducting researcher evaluations. In particular, AUAS researchers are looking at the obstacles experienced by cities when implementing the HeatNet model in their cities. The next step is to find solutions. Possible obstacles might include:

  • a river running through the city (physical obstacle);
  • the loss of a heating supplier (financial obstacle);
  • government legislation and regulations (political obstacle);
  • delay due to stakeholders blocking the project (organisational obstacle).

The project parties meet once every six months. During these meetings, the AUAS organises a workshop in which obstacles and solutions are shared and the partners can advise each other.


Various heating networks will be realised during the project. The knowledge and experience acquired during these pilots will be combined in a HeatNet model. This knowledge will be used to roll out more fourth-generation heating networks in North-West Europe.

The parties involved in the HeatNet study are developing a roadmap with a long-term vision for this purpose. In this way, the project will contribute to the growth of the number of heating networks in North-West Europe. The project will save 15,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.


Within the AUAS Urban Technology research priority area, the Building Transformation professorship (Frank Suurenbroek) and Sustainable Energy Systems (Renee Heller) have pooled their expertise, with lecturer-researcher Egbert-Jan van Dijck serving as the central researcher.

For more information, contact Renée Heller, the HeatNet project leader.


HeatNet is a partnership between the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, City of Dublin Energy Management Agency Ltd, Plymouth City Council, CAP 2020 asbl, Stad Kortrijk, Intercommunale Leiedal, Energy Cities, Ville de Boulogne-sur-Mer, Ghent University, Aberdeen City Council, Mijnwater B.V., South Dublin County Council, Centre d'études et d'expertise sur les risques, l'environnement, la mobilité et l'aménagement. The project is funded by Interreg North-West Europe.

3 October 2019

Project Info

Start date 15 Sep 2016
End date 14 Jul 2020