The heating sector contributes a reliable heating and cooling supply to society and makes up a large proportion of the energy market. The heating sector uses approximately 100 TWh, half of which is district heating and half individual and small-scale heating. Direct emissions from district heating and own heating of homes and premises amounted to just under 3 Mtonnes CO2-eq in 2019.

Previously characterised by a major dependence on oil, heating is currently dominated by district heating, heat pumps, electric heating and biofuel. The sector has already largely phased out the use of fossil fuel and is well placed to contribute negative emissions within a few years.

Targets in roadmap

2030: Heating sector completely fossil-fuel free.
2045: Additionally constitutes a carbon sink for society.

To implement the roadmap, the industry is mainly working on:

  • measures to reduce the energy and power needs of buildings.
  • broad-based measures along the entire value chain to reduce the amount of fossil plastic that goes to energy recovery.
  • capture and storage of biogenic carbon dioxide so contributing negative emissions.

The process of implementing the roadmap is run by about 30 organisations working in property management, district heating and heat pumps in a collaborative platform for exchanging experiences.

Progress since the roadmap was launched

Rapid phase-out of fossil fuels

80 percent of property owners have already phased out all local use of fossil fuels. Several district heating companies have also completed this process and many are looking to phase out fossil fuels completely in the next few years. The small volumes that remain today in the district heating sector (1% of input energy in 2020) are mainly used as back-up on extremely cold days, as starter fuel and in other rare operation cases.

Greater focus on reducing plastic in energy recovery

The issue of plastic is now high on the agenda among energy and energy recovery companies, municipalities and property owners. New sorting facilities for removing plastic are being built at locations including Stockholm and Motala. Another example is the property company for universities and colleges, Akademiska Hus which now includes the issue of using less plastic and insisting on recycled plastic in its partnership agreements with tenants.

The district heating sector has made great strides towards negative emissions

Bio-CCS can produce major negative emissions and several development and pilot projects are in progress in the district heating sector. Stockholm Exergi is one of the companies focusing on bio-CCS. A pilot plant came on stream in 2019. The aim is to take investment decisions on a full-scale facility in 2022 and to capture the first kilo of carbon dioxide for storage in 2025.

Industry challenges

If the heating sector is to be able to provide a carbon sink, incentives are needed for “negative emissions” in the short and the long term. Major investments in, and financial support for, bio-CCS will be needed to make the technology competitive and established. In the longer term, there must be market-driven demand.

Measures at the sorting stage and differentiated reception fees at incineration plants do not go far enough to reduce fossil emissions from energy recovery of waste. Other actors earlier in the material chain must do their bit by using renewable or recycled raw materials, re-use, material recycling and other measures to achieve more circular management of plastic. Initiatives must be carried out throughout the whole chain of actors from extraction to production, design, purchasing, use, sorting and waste management.