stratego logoThe European STRATEGO project helped national and local authorities to develop a policy vision for sustainable heating and cooling plans. Although the demand for heat is twice as high as the demand for electricity, the heating policy is just starting to be developed, while the sustainable electricity policy has been operational for longer. In other words, a heating and cooling policy vision is much called for


Closed project



STRATEGO provided support on three levels:

  1. Research into the opportunities for a sustainable heating and cooling supply at country level

  2. Encouraging an exchange of knowledge, both between countries and within Belgium itself.

  3. Review of the local cases and projects

STRATEGO was led by EuroHeat&Power, international association representing the District Heating and Cooling (DHC) and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) sector in Europe and beyond. EnergyVille was the project’s Belgian partner, along with 15 other partners from just about as many EU Member States.

STRATEGO: a catalyst for local heating and cooling projects

A national vision on heating and cooling must be transposed into projects in the field. EnergyVille provided support to the cities of Brussels, Antwerp, Kortrijk and Mol and to the province of Limburg in the framework of STRATEGO. 

hitte eilandkaart brussel


For Brussels, EnergyVille calculated how serious the heat island effect was in the region. The conclusion was that the average temperature in the city on summer evenings is easily up to 4°C higher than in the surrounding rural areas. The temperature difference can be even more pronounced during heat waves, like the one we recently experienced in early July. The objective of this heat island map was to provide the motivation for sustainable cooling projects in Brussels.


For Kortrijk, EnergyVille analysed the market structures for heating networks. This involved several functions, ranging from the generation and distribution of heat, controlling load variations, and data management and invoicing. The aim was to see to what extent these various functions could be assured by one or more companies, and what would be the advantages and disadvantages of this.


The study for Antwerp focused on the organisation of heating networks with more than one heat source. EnergyVille examined which criteria Antwerp should use for the ranking of the various sources in terms of heat input and how the city should grant external heat suppliers access to the network.


We provided support for the development of a heating network, in combination with the deep geothermal heat project, in Mol. EnergyVille examined whether it would be advantageous to already develop small local heating networks, which can be subsequently linked to a pipeline with deep geothermal heat.

Province of Limburg

Together with EnergyVille, the province of Limburg analysed the heat-related map layers of VITO’s previous cartographic analysis of the renewable energy potential. The objective was to identify promising areas for projects and develop specific project proposals to be discussed in further detail with the various stakeholders.

Antwerp and Kortrijk take a study trip to Scandinavia

STRATEGO’s third important contribution is the exchange of knowledge. In this framework, EnergyVille put Antwerp and Kortrijk in touch with Odense in Denmark and Gothenburg in Sweden. Both of these cities have a long-standing tradition of heating networks.

The feedback after the study trip was quite positive: “I learned more during these two days than during all the meetings,” said Sébastien Lefebvre (city of Kortrijk), who experienced first-hand that heating networks in Denmark started out small, as is the case in Kortrijk now. The Antwerp delegation’s sentiments echoed this: “The developments here in Gothenburg are an excellent example of what heat supply in Antwerp may look like in the future,” said Sam Verbelen.

The case of the PREEM refinery in Gothenburg, which has been supplying heat to the city’s heating network for over thirty years, also impressed the visitors: “Thanks to the heat supply to the city network, the two refineries in Gothenburg are at the forefront in the global Solomon benchmark on the energy efficiency of refineries. The contract between our refinery and the heating company is a real win-win-win: we benefit because we earn money off the heat, which we would have to cool off anyway; it is a win for the heating company because it can rely on a cheap heat source; and a win for society because CO2 and other pollutants are drastically reduced.”

The representative of the Gothenburg-based waste incinerator RENOVA agreed with this: “One quarter of our earnings comes from heat supply. If we didn’t do this, then the people of Gothenburg would have to pay significantly more for waste disposal.”

“These are important lessons,” said Wouter Cyx, (city of Antwerp) and Paul De Rache (Antwerp Port Authority). “This gave us the insights needed to engage in an open dialogue with the energy-intensive industry in our own country.” And although the latter were unable to join us on this study trip, they are also closely monitoring the discussion.

Energy savings in the components, as well as in the system

Which possibilities do the EU Member States have in terms of sustainable heating and cooling and how does this contribute to the global energy system? The project partners calculated the energy savings as a result of a number of interventions for five countries, i.e. Italy, Croatia, Romania, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom:

  1. Energy-efficient buildings everywhere,
  2. The development of heating networks in sufficiently densely populated areas,
  3. The input of the residual heat from waste incinerators and industry and of energy generated from green sources in these heating networks,
  4. The roll-out of sustainable heating technologies in less densely populated areas, starting with the heat pump.

This study was quite an intellectual challenge and required the development of sophisticated modelling tools. For example, STRATEGO developed a heat roadmap for all of Europe with a resolution of 1x1 km.

pan-european thermal atlas

The results were astonishing. This research reveals that there is potential:

  • for reducing the heat demand in buildings by 30% to 50%, depending on the country
  • to expand the district heating networks to supplying 40 to 70% of the heat compared with the current 0% to 25%, using heat pumps as the primary heating source in rural areas, along with pellet and solar boilers.

This would give rise to a reduction by 1,000 terrawatt/hours per year by 2050 (TWh/year) for the five countries, which is the equivalent of the current total energy demand for the Czech Republic, Croatia and Romania. CO2 emissions would drop by 45 to 70% or 275 million tons/year in these five countries. Finally, the energy costs would also be reduced by 10 to 15%.

Such scenarios help the European Commission to reduce CO2 emissions by 2050, as set out by the Commission. If the European Commission did not use this potential for sustainable heating and cooling, this would cost up to €100 billion more per year.

Johan Desmedt


Johan Desmedt

Project Manager Energy Technology at EnergyVille/VITO