Cloud connected DH-substation under evaluation


A new project report clarifies how upgrading a district heating substation with a new digital system can generate several benefits. Not only can it be used to influence end users, but it can also detect hardware or software failures in earlier stages than otherwise possible. The solution is suitable and recommended for use by large customers in both traditional DH systems and for LTDH.

Cetetherm together with the energy company Kraftringen AB are right now evaluating a new digital solution in the DH-grid in the City of Lund, Sweden. The digital system Optimizer has been developed by Cetetherm and since last year the system is up and running in a DH-substation covering 99 apartments. The building and substation are owned and managed by AF Bostäder, a local student housing organisation. The substation services the apartments with heating and hot water.

The new digital system installed enables energy optimization as well as software and hardware monitoring. The test end results are yet to be presented, but previous studies and projections show that by upgrading the substation with a smarter and cloud connected digital system the overall energy use and costs can be reduced by 8-12 %. This while still maintaining a comfortable indoor climate.

There is an increasing interest among district heating customers to reduce their energy use, both to save money on bills but also to reduce their carbon footprint. Installing a digital control system can help to optimize the buildings energy use which benefits both the customer and the provider. From an energy provider’s point of view, it can, among other things, improve network performance by lowering the return temperature from customer substations.

The interface of the newly developed digital control system Optimizer.

Financial information in short

When assessing if a consumer substation works well, it is important to know the type of building. Residential buildings have different consumption patterns than for example office buildings, industrial buildings, and hospitals. Therefore, they should also be treated differently. This ongoing study concerns a three-level residential building (6100 m2) plus basement (2500 m2) with an annual DH consumption about 1 050 MWh/year before substation upgrade.

  • The payback period is estimated to be about 4 years.
  • A major part of the cost is related to each installation (substation).
  • The total energy saving should be around 10% of energy used for heating (pending on energy cost level) to justify the investment.

How to upgrade an existing DH substation

The installation of the new digital solution was made by replacing the existing control system in the substation with the new one – and connect it to the existing sensors, alarm system, valve, and pumps. Furthermore, five indoor sensors were installed to enable inhouse climate monitoring – and a 4G router was installed to enable the vital cloud connection.

End results are expected later this year
The system was installed in the substation last summer, but an important AI-add on was not activated before late autumn. Results and evaluation of the new system compared to data before the installation are therefore not yet available. The end results are expected later this year (2022) and will take a full substation analysis and practical testing in consideration – including the process of managing data, using that data to create key performance indicators and to evaluate the system in relation to energy usage and demand profile operations.

Interested in more information?

This is a confidential deliverable in the COOL DH-project. However, we are more than happy to answer questions if you are interested in similar solutions. Please contact:

Roger Dahlstrand, Sales Manager, Cetetherm Nordic