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By Mahaut Vauchez Mahaut Vauchez Scilit Preprints.org Google Scholar 1 , Jacopo Famiglietti Jacopo Famiglietti Scilit Preprints.org Google Scholar 2 , Kevin Autelitano Kevin Autelitano Scilit Preprints.org Google Scholar 2 , Morgane Colombert Morgane Colombert S.3. , Rossano Scoccia Rossano Scoccia Scilit Preprints.org Google Scholar 2 , * and Mario Motta Mario Motta Scilit Preprints.org Google Scholar 2
Received: 31 March 2023 / Revised: 20 April 2023 / Accepted: 2 May 2023 / Published: 5 May 2023
The identification of decarbonisation strategies at district level is increasingly necessary to align the development of urban projects with European climate neutrality objectives. It is well known that district heating and cooling networks are an attractive energy system solution because they allow the integration of renewable energies and the local redundancy of hot or cold sources. A detailed design and optimization of the network infrastructure is necessary to realize the full potential of this energy system. The authors used a case study in Marseille, France, to compare the environmental profile of five distribution network infrastructures (i.e., pipes, heat carrier fluids, trenches, heat exchangers, valves, and water pumps). Life cycle reviewed. The aim of this work is to put into perspective the environmental profile of the subsystems comprising district heating infrastructure, and to compare pipe typologies that can be used to guide decision-making in the eco-design process. Rigid and flexible piping systems were compared separately. The results show that the main impact source is the pipe subsystem, followed by the trench for most impact categories. The authors emphasize the importance of pipe typology selection, which can reduce emissions by 80% and 77% for rigid and flexible systems, respectively.
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Although cities occupy only 2% of the continent’s land area, they represent 60% of global energy consumption, 70% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and 70% of global waste [ 1 ]. The scientific community repeatedly emphasizes the urgent need to rapidly reduce the impact of cities. To address this issue, the European Commission (EC), through its European Environmental Law and Green Deal, has committed to achieving at least a 55% GHG reduction by 2030 and reaching climate neutrality by 2050. An important goal has been set for Legally binding since June. 2021, the revised Renewable Energy Directive  ensures the use of renewable sources in the transport sector as well as in heating and cooling. To this end, District Heating and Cooling Networks (DHCNs) have been identified as an important infrastructure that allows the efficient integration of local renewable energies and the optimization of additional heat or cold sources  . . A district cooling network (DCN) is a cooling system that uses centralized production using cooling sources. The chilled water is transported through a pipe network and then through heat exchangers to the consumer’s buildings. A district heating network (DHN) is a centralized heat distribution system for multiple customer space heating and hot water production. It consists of four functional parts: heat generation, primary network, substations, and secondary network. The interconnection of heat production at the district level takes advantage of the density and proximity of the inhabitants, i.e. the end consumers of the heat. The coexistence of different types of heat users (offices, residential buildings, etc.) in the city allows the system to act as a heat storage and exchanger between buildings, increasing the district heating efficiency, and setting Responds to higher goals. For the building sector.
A comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts, beyond simply reporting GHG emissions, is increasingly necessary to reach these decarbonization targets. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method is an internationally recognized quantitative method to meet this requirement. It is considered the most reliable method for evaluating energy systems with complex components, such as DHCN [4, 5]. To this end, the French environmental regulation “Réglementation Environnementale (RE) 2020” has set LCA as a mandatory step for integrating other relevant metrics, including energy consumption, for new buildings in France [6 ]. This indicator is highly relevant in the residential sector, which represents 22% of global energy consumption .
A review of the literature on LCA applied to DHNs identifies several articles and studies of interest. The LCA approach applied to DHCs drafted useful tips and suggestions in system design and management [8, 9].
LCA studies on DHN were mainly provided to evaluate and compare the performance of generators, taking into account their environmental profiles [ 10 , 11 ]. LCA analyzes applied to DHNs also allowed the evaluation of different scenarios for integrating renewable sources [ 12 ]. In particular, the scenarios considered the use of low-temperature systems. Furthermore, in these cases, the approach adopted allowed for the assessment of the environmental profile during the use phase of the systems . Centralized solar heating plants with storage were also analyzed. Rahman et al. (2018) adopted a life cycle approach to compare the performance between centralized or semi-centralized solar district heating systems for Finnish scenarios . In some cases, the LCA approach was integrated with machine learning to study the optimal integration of solar assisted district heating in communities of different urban sizes .
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Neroti etc. (2019) Comparison of distributed heat using a district heating network with individual appliances (natural gas boilers). The results highlight that the comparison is highly dependent on the allocation method used for combined heat and power plant production . A similar study with LCA was also applied to evaluate the efficiency of existing district heating networks by accumulating phase change materials (PCMs) in a power plant [ 17 , 18 ]. This technology is designed to control the return temperature in a shared network between multiple utilities [19, 20].
Oliver-Solà et al. (2009) performed an LCA to determine the environmental impact of district heating infrastructure in an urban area. This study identified the subsystems that were the main contributors to the overall impact of infrastructure, namely residences and power plant for their study case, followed by service pipes [ 21 ]. Fröling et al. (2004) analyzed the different subsystems of the distribution subsystem of DHN. Focusing on service pipes of different Nominal Diameters (NDs), the results showed that the most important contributor to the environmental impact was the material extraction and production of steel pipes . Excavation work mainly contributed to the network construction subsystem, especially trenching work . Unlike previous papers, the authors of this article evaluate district heating networks by comparing different types of pipes and their influence on overall infrastructure outcomes, as well as analyzing the factors that contribute to the environmental profile. extended [11, 12, 13, 14], 15, 16, 17]. The novelty of the work was determined by the environmental results obtained regarding the district heating infrastructure. Thus, this work aims to provide a comprehensive view of the environmental burden of each DHN component, and to answer the research question of which components are more consistently evaluated or neglected by LCA practitioners. go Moreover, it shows the environmental profiles of five types of infrastructure.
The environmental performance of DHNs is highly dependent on their characteristics and the choice of distribution components, and can be divided into rigid and flexible piping systems. Rigid infrastructure consists of steel service pipes. These systems are designed for high temperatures and operating pressures, and serve as main pipelines in large district heating networks. These pipes are supplied in rods, and service pipes must be welded on site. Flexible piping systems typically consist of polymeric service pipes. Maximum operating temperature
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