District Heating

District heating as we know it today was developed in the early part of the 20th century – but what is district heating?

The main concept is to supply hot water for heating of public buildings, apartment blocks, offices etc. from a central heating plant. The hot water is then distributed through insulated pipe systems buried underground. In many city’s across western, eastern and northern Europe large district heating networks are installed, transporting heat over many kilometers to a wide range of consumers.

The big advantage of a central heat production is that environmentally friendly / renewable sources can be used and combined with traditional technology’s to provide heat. Sources of heat include large power stations, CHP, biomass, energy from waste, ground source heat pumps and geothermal.  But district heating is not only limited to big cities, in the early 80’s the concept was used to develop projects on a much smaller scale, known as community heating.  Its origins were in countries with big natural resources of wood, like Austria. The local farmers were invited to start businesses as energy supplier’s and build up community heating systems in their local villages. This business model grew rapidly and other countries soon followed. Biomass/Biogas are considered as 100% CO² neutral energy sources – where only waste wood or especially planted trees/straw/grass are used.

Another form of district heating is the central supply of heating for a school, university, hotel resort, airport or a shopping centre; this is often called group heating.

The flexible pipe solution for district heating: With the increasing demand for district heating since 1980, energy suppliers were searching for more economical ways to construct new networks. The main problems with the early heating networks were break downs due to corrosion and the time consuming installation during repair and upgrade. The solution was Flexalen the flexible, secure and reliable pre-insulated plastic pipe system.

The Flexalen system was first introduced 1982 with Polybutene chosen for the medium pipes, because of its flexibility, welded connections and the high lifetime expectancy at temperatures of up to 95°C. We continue to develop the Flexalen 600 system to ensure even better long-term performance improving quality, vapour resistance and with a heat loss of less than 1°C per km saving energy.

Today heat accounts for over 45% of our energy use in the UK and we need to act now to protect the environment and save energy. The renewable heat incentive (RHI) introduced by the government aims to provide long term support for community heating and district heating networks – for more information visit the Department of Energy & Climate Change web site at www.decc.gov.uk

What can Flexenergy offer? Flexenergy’s range of pre-insulated pipes, offer engineered solutions for a wide variety of renewable / sustainable energy technologies such as solar, biomass CHP, geothermal, district heating, community heating, cooling & chilled water networks.

We stock an extensive range of Flexalen pre-insulated pipe products for use in Heating, Hot Water and Chilled Water applications. Flexalen is the market leader in the manufacture of pre insulated pipes, supplying products & services throughout Europe for over 25 years.

Our engineers are guiding client’s, specifier’s and contractors during design, planning and installation to create secure, reliable,  low maintenance, energy efficient  district heating  and community heating networks.


Flexenergy Certificates