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District heating in case of power failure

P. Lauenburg, P.-O. Johansson and J. Wollerstrand

Applied Energy, 2010, vol. 87, issue 4, 1176-1186

Abstract: Power failures in combination with harsh weather conditions during recent years have led to an increased focus on a safe energy supply to our society. Many vital functions are dependent on electricity; e.g., lighting, telephony, medical equipment, lifts, alarm systems, payment, pumps for town's water and, perhaps the most critical of all, heating systems. In Sweden, district heating (DH) is the most common type of heating for buildings in town centres. Therefore, it is of great interest to investigate what happens in DH systems during a power failure. The present study shows that, by maintaining the DH production as well as the operation of the DH network, possibilities to supply connected buildings with space heat are surprisingly good. This is due to the fact that natural circulation will most often take place in radiator systems. In Sweden, and in many other countries, so-called indirect connection (heat supply across heat exchangers) of DH substations is applied. If a DH network operation can be maintained during a power failure, DH water will continue to pass the radiator system's heat exchanger (HEX), provided that the control valve does not close. The radiator circulation pump will stop, causing the radiator water to attain a relatively high temperature in the HEX, which promotes a natural circulation in the hydronic heating system, due to an increased water density differential at different temperatures. Several field tests and computer simulations have been performed and have displayed that almost all buildings can achieve a space heat supply corresponding to 40-80% of the amount prior to the interruption. A sufficient heat load in the DH network can be vital in certain cases: e.g., for [`]island-operation' of an electric power plant to be performed during a power failure. Furthermore, for many combined heat and power stations, a requirement involves that the DH network continues to provide a heat sink when no other cooling is available. Based on the findings presented herein, a set of recommendations have been set up to provide advice to, among others, DH utilities and owners of customer buildings.

Keywords: District; heating; Power; failure; Space; heating; Natural; circulation; Island-operation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:87:y:2010:i:4:p:1176-1186