District Heating

District Heating Systems (DHS, see Figure DH) are based on centralized systems for the production and distribution of thermal energy -heat and cooling- to different consumption points [Figure DH (c)], where heating, domestic hot water or cooling demands are satisfied.

The energy is produced in one or several power plants [Figure DH (a)] and distributed through a network of thermally insulated pipelines using specific fluids [Figure DH (b)].

Considering the total energy demand, the sectors that could benefit from the implementation of these technologies are the residential, commercial and public sectors, with a potential coupling to the industrial sector.

© Fraunhofer Chile
Figure DH: Schematic diagram of District Heating systems. Adapted from Infosheets from [3]. S. H. &. C. P. I. E. E. AGENCY, "Task 55 | Integrating Large SHC Systems into DHC Networks," [Online]. Available: https://task55.iea-shc.org/. [Last accessed: 03 2022].


The composition of emissions into the environment is strongly influenced by foundries, the pulp and paper industry, among other industrial sectors, thermoelectric plants, road transport and residential wood combustion. The latter is the main emitting agent of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), where it is observed that more than 80% of the emissions of this type of pollutant are due precisely to the combustion of residential firewood.

From the Metropolitan Region to the south more than 85% of the MP2.5 monitoring stations present records that do not comply with the current regulations in force.

In Chile, in 2017, approximately 3500 people died due to MP2.5 type pollution, with an accumulated social cost for each type of effect caused by MP2.5 pollution of approximately 2500 million dollars.



-G. d. C. Ministry of the Environment, "National Environmental Information System," [Online]. Available: https://sinia.mma.gob.cl/index.php/reporte-interactivo-2020/. [Last accessed: 03 2022].

-S. N. d. I. A. Ministry of the Environment, "Fourth State of the Environment Report," 2018.

District Energy Services

Development of Local Energy Strategies (LES)

  • Identification and establishment of actors that will accompany the process.
  • Analysis of local energy management
  • Definition of vision, objectives, goals and action plan.
  • Definition of the management, communication and follow-up model for the EEL action plan.
  • Validation of strategic definitions

Technical-economic feasibility study

  • Estimation of heating and cooling demands in the residential, commercial, public and industrial sectors of the area to be evaluated.
  • Design of the thermal power plant that will supply the demands of all the sectors involved.
  • Design of the heat and cold distribution network.
  • Calculation of technical, economic and social indicators

Bidding Terms and Conditions

  • Design of technical bidding documents
  • Evaluation of bidders
  • Recommendation of the best solution for the community

Potential in Chile

One of the main advantages of Energía Distrital is its flexibility in the energy matrix of its thermal power plant, which can consider multiple inputs in terms of energy and short and long term thermal storage. Thus, energy from solar thermal and photovoltaic plants, wind power plants, industrial waste heat, highly efficient biomass boilers, heat pumps, geothermal energy, among others, can coexist in an Energía Distrital plant.


Another advantage to highlight is the fact that a District Energy plant satisfies the heat needs of multiple users, aggregating the demand in a centralized plant. This allows access to significant economies of scale in each of the technologies used, so that the total cost for the end user is similar or lower than the technologies currently used from fossil fuels or wood burning.


In a study of the potential for the application of District Energy in our country, developed by Fraunhofer Chile, it was estimated that from the Metropolitan Region to the south of the country, more than 40% of the heat demands for heating and DHW of the residential, commercial and public sectors, and more than 50% of the hot water demands in industries belonging to six different types of items of the food sector could be satisfied in a technically and economically profitable way.


In this study, more than 180 geographic zones with high technical-economic potential were identified in the different regions evaluated.

Sites of interest


Ministerio de Energía - Energía Distrital


Agencia de Sostenibilidad Energética - Energía Distrital


District Energy Initiative - Chile