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Posted by Tony Conner on May 04, 2001 at 07:02:53:

In Reply to: Re: FUTURE OF DISTRICT ENERGY posted by Harold Kestenholz - Hydronic Network on May 03, 2001 at 10:02:17:

Unless things have changed in the last 4 or 5 years, Toronto & Vancouver are still steam. I can't imagine them spending the capital dollars to convert their distribution systems. Vancouver's on the same Pacific fault system that runs from California up through Alaska. The old steam system in Winnipeg shut down about 1990. (It may have re-started, but I haven't heard anything about it.)

To make district energy financially viable, you usually need to have a co-gen set-up, or waste heat from a central generating plant - ideally fired by something cheap, like coal, or a nuke. If anybody is buying natural gas or #2 oil to run a generating plant, I sure hope the price they get for the power generated is tied to their escalating fuel costs. If they're not, I can't imagine how they can afford to run.

If the only thing the district heating operation is providing is building heating, that's a tough business. Even with co-gen & cooling, there's still 2 or 3 months in the spring & fall where there's no home for the exhaust heat from the co-gen. Even in industrial process applications, the electrical and thermal loads have to pretty much parallel each other to really make it effective. This usually a hard situation to find.

Most manufacturers of small hot water boilers offer units that are compact, highly efficient, and clean burning. Who knows what the next few years will bring? There could be a breakthrough in (or disappointing failure of) new technology, fuel cost fluctuations, changes to government regulations, etc. It's really hard to predict anything long term.

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