The 19th edition of the International conference on District Energy took place at the Grand Hotel Bernardin in Portorož, from 20th to 22nd March 2016. The conference and presentations covered 5 main thematic areas among which the important ones were National Energy Concept and District Energy“, “Solutions and Energy Efficiency” and “Process Management in District Energy.”

At the introduction speech entitled “Challenges of District Energy in changing World“, Marjan Eberlinc, member of the conference’s Organising Committee and General Manager at the company Plinovodi, d.o.o. said that “district energy is one of the promising energy paths –a dynamic but difficult one – which, in the national energy map, has so far been pushed to the appendix“.

So it is even more important for Slovenia to host similar conferences where energy experts share opinions on future guidelines that will best create and improve the objectives of national energy strategy.

Namely, the district energy is considered to be one of the best practice approaches for providing a local, affordable and sustainable energy supply. In words of Mr Eberlinc “these new energy concepts are gaining in importance – to the degree that they will combine all energy sources, all energy services, and all energy markets and thus justify investments in them.”

And how do district energy systems function anyway? The principle is simple the systems produce steam, hot or chilled water at a central plant which is then piped underground to individual buildings, where it is used for heating or cooling of the buildings (air conditioning). Individual buildings are therefore supplied with energy from a distant plant and don’t need their own boilers or air conditioners. These low cost and eco-friendly systems have multiple beneficial effects, such as improved energy efficiency, enhanced environmental protection and decreased life-cycle costs. Several studies have also confirmed that a network of district energy piping supplying at least 50 per cent of the heating needs of any city could substantially reduce the community’s carbon footprint.

The International Conference on District Energy was organised by the Slovene District Energy Association (SDDE) and was even more special this year since the final development programs have been introduced to form the long awaited National Energy Policy. State Secretary Klemen Potisek also participated at the conference emphasizing “that we need to strive for more efficient and more environmentally acceptable methods of heating and reap the benefits of district heating wherever possible.”