Training Module: Energy mapping

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London Heat Map

To identify projects, target resources and policies and build stakeholder engagement, municipalities often undertake energy mapping to meet district energy goals. This energy mapping includes detailed information on the current and future geographical distribution of energy use at the neighbourhood and building levels, as well as on local heat and energy assets and distribution structures. This process analyses the local conditions, such as sources of excess heat, renewable heat assets (geothermal and solar), and concentrations of heat or cooling demand – often using GIS-based spatial information <ref>.

Globally, such mapping is undertaken at different scales, to differing levels of detail and with different objectives. This training module explains energy mapping, gives best practice case studies and recommends processes for developing energy mapping in your city. energy mapping can also be undertaken at a level greater than a city - for information on this please refer to National mapping.

Why should we do energy mapping?

What is included in an energy map?

London Heat Map showing potential Battersea district heating network and anchor loads
Rotterdam energy map showing heat loads and heat sources

Further data and layers of analysis can be added over time, depending on the policy objectives and goals.

Energy maps for district energy can contain, among other variables, data on:

  • Existing and projected energy consumption by sector, fuel source or neighbourhood; the resulting emissions and pollution; and an understanding of the load profile
  • Present and future building density and use type (residential, commercial, etc.)
  • Sources of surplus or industrial heat supply
  • Large energy consumers and buildings with potential excess heating or cooling capacity (e.g., buildings for events such as a stadium or arena)
  • Current networks and potential network routes (see figure 2.3)
  • Potential anchor loads and their energy consumption (see figure 2.4)
  • Barriers and opportunities particular to the location related to local energy sources, distribution, transport, land use, development density and character
  • Socio-economic indicators to identify fuel-poor areas that could benefit.

Energy mapping can help cities identify specific district energy projects that could be developed, how they can best be expanded and connected in the future, and how this expansion ties into other infrastructure development. Energy maps also can identify how a city can best apply its land-use authority to encourage district energy and to develop tailored incentives in different zones to reduce load risk.

In addition, cities can use mapping to facilitate stakeholder engagement. Amsterdam, for example, uses mapping as a tool to build public-private partnerships, which helps the city share the task of data collection, scenario analysis and the development of new business models (see Amsterdam). Energy mapping also helps raise public awareness by creating an effective visualization tool for communication <ref>.

For some cities, a city-wide energy mapping exercise may not be initially realistic due to financial and other constraints. The idea of energy mapping is that the tool is constantly evolving. As such, a city could identify high-potential areas in the energy strategy and focus on a detailed mapping exercise of these areas (e.g., the Central Business District (CBD), airports, social housing, large retail areas). Obvious anchor loads and heat/cooling sources near these areas should still be accounted for.

ToR for energy map London, Amsterdam case studies Detail on mapping in India, Belgrade, Chile,


References: Connolly et al., 2013 Persson et al., 2012