Customer-centred development paths for district heating industry

Kaisa Kontu

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Heating and cooling accounts approximately 50% of final energy use in the European Union. District heating systems are seen as feasible energy technologies as part of sustainable energy systems and the market share is predicted to grow in the future. The main advantages of district heating systems are their ability to utilise heat that would otherwise be wasted. Also, the energy storing capacity of district heating systems in short term is expected to bring flexibility to energy systems. The literature underlines that current district heating systems should evolve towards lower temperature levels of networks as well as more versatile production mix. District heating research have concentrated on production and network while customers are often neglected part of the research and seen as consumption points in district heating network.  The aim of this dissertation is to examine how district heating industry and its business models should be developed to involve customers. The starting point of the dissertation was that real estate owners seek lower heating costs as well as smaller risk towards increasing energy prices. This dissertation is constructed from four case-study articles. The articles discuss demand side management and heat pumps from perspectives of both customers and district heating system. The results of this dissertation show that from the customers' perspective it is profitable to change over from district heating to on-site heating system either partly or completely and implement demand side management. The results of the case studies found that on-site individual heat pumps are profitable heating systems for real estate owners with rate of returns being two or either three times higher than the property yields. Also, customers' control strategies in heat demand profile (demand side management) decrease heating costs. Understanding customers' perspective sheds light for upcoming changes in district heating industry. According to the results district heating industry should renew its business models, such as renewing pricing models, offer hybrid heating systems for customers and allow prosumers' waste heat into the district heating network, while adding value for the customers.
Translated title of the contributionKaukolämpötoimialan asiakaslähtöiset kehityssuunnat
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Junnila, Seppo, Supervising Professor
  • Vimpari, Jussi, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-8909-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-8910-2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • district heating industry
  • on-site energy systems
  • customer
  • real estate
  • demand side management
  • business model
  • energy transition

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Customer-centred development paths for district heating industry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this