Fundamentals of District Heating


1-day course

CPD Credit: 6.5 hours, C1

Course Aim

This course aims to introduce the key concepts and fundamentals of district heating systems across the main stages in a heat networks development from initial heat planning and policy, business case development, through to the design and construction of the network.

Course Overview

This course is intended to provide an introduction to district heating. Unlike many countries in Europe, district heating is an unknown technology to many in Ireland but is set to play a key role in the decarbonisation of Ireland’s heat sector and reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels. Recent national heat studies from Heat Roadmaps Europe and SEAI have found that more than 50% of Ireland’s heat demand is feasible for district heating. This in conjunction with Renewable Energy Ireland’s “40 by 30” national heat study which targets 10% of heating to be supplied by DH networks by 2030 (up from less than 1% today) highlights the level of upskilling and job creation potential in this sector in the coming years. District heating also provides an opportunity for a just transition for those with complementary skills currently working in the fossil fuel sector (engineers, welders, civils contractors, etc.).

This course will provide attendees with an introduction to district heating, its benefits for different stakeholders, the evolution of heat networks, the policy context for Ireland, the skills gaps in scaling up DH roll out, delivery models that can be used to develop heat networks, and projects currently being developed in Ireland. Delegates of this course will also discover the key design concepts for heat networks, how building heating systems can improve the efficiency of networks, how DH can support a more renewable electricity grid through sector integration and useful tools that can help delegates determine if DH is viable in their area or for their development.

As part of this course a resource pack of helpful guidance documents, heat planning tools, relevant policy documents and standards will be shared with all delegates.

Learning Objectives

Following this course, attendees will:

  • Understand what a district heating network is and how they have evolved
  • Learn the benefits of DH, why it is now becoming an important part of Ireland’s decarbonisation effort and where this is being reflected in policy at a local, national and EU level
  • Learn the key concepts in the design and optimisation of district heating networks and these effect project feasibility
  • Learn how to identify areas suitable for district heating
  • Learn effective stakeholder engagement for DH projects
  • Become familiar with the various business models that can be used when developing projects
  • Learn about the innovative networks currently being developed in Ireland
  • Learn about the potential role of district heating in enabling greater renewables on the electricity grid through sector integration

Course Programme

  • What is district heating
  • Types of district heating networks
  • Why Ireland is adopting district heating - the benefits of district heating & supporting policies
  • Stages of developing a district heating network
  • Heat planning - purpose, method and useful tools for identifying district heating opportunities which consider demand density, heat producing technologies (including waste heat) and physical constraints
  • Stakeholder engagement - identifying, prioritising and communicating with stakeholders
  • How to assess the feasibility of possible networks - Key elements of the techno-economic analysis for networks
  • Key concepts that influence the design and cost of heat networks
  • Introduction to methods of optimising building heating systems for connection the DH networks
  • Business model options for DH projects
  • Projects currently under development in Ireland
  • Sector integration potential for heat networks as a means of energy storage, grid balancing etc.

Who Should Attend?

This course is suited to those looking to get an introduction to district heating.

Trainer’s Profile

John O'Shea

John O'Shea

john is the energy systems analyst / heat & electricity lead with codema - dublin’s energy agency. he holds a phd in sustainable energy from university college cork, a beng in civil engineering from it carlow and is a cibse certified heat networks consultant that has worked in the areas of district energy, energy masterplanning, policy development, techno-economic analysis and sustainable business case development since 2013. john also has expertise in the design, optimisation and hydraulic analysis of district heating networks, and large-scale district cooling thermo-dynamic analysis from working on many projects across europe and the middle east. during this period john developed specialist knowledge in many heating, cooling and electricity generating technologies common in integrated energy systems like dh networks.

john has also acted as an advisor on policy within the district energy sector in both the uk and ireland specifically in the areas of financial support mechanisms, development strategy and regulatory compliance. john has also worked on a number of policy recommendation papers at an eu level with organisations such as euroheat and power.

since joining codema in 2018, john has worked on the interreg nwe south dublin district heating project in tallaght and the dublin district heating system in poolbeg as a technical advisor but also partaking in stakeholder engagement, developing procurement strategy and implementation, and performing whole life cost benefit analysis for proposed dh systems. in the case of the south dublin project this innovative system seeks to utilise low-temperature waste heat from a data centre to feed large-scale heat pumps that supply space heating and hot water to a cluster of nearby public and residential buildings in its initial phases. john is also responsible for the development of the dublin heat source map and the south dublin transition roadmap, to aid the identification and development of further district heating opportunities in the region.

john has also lead the development of the dublin region energy masterplan which analyses the cost-optimal pathway for decarbonising dublin across electricity, heat and transport to 2030 and 2050. this spatially-led integrated energy model is the first of its kind in ireland and looks to include local technical constraints as well as socioeconomic impacts in developing cost-optimal low-carbon pathway for dublin.

Sustainability Badge

engineers ireland supports the sustainable development goals. this event contributes to engineers ireland's Sustainability Framework.

Please contact the Team for further information on scheduled course dates and In-Company options. You can reach us by phone: 01 665 1305 or email