Rotterdam designs district heating networks with Comsof

In brief

  • Rotterdam is continuing to build its district heating network
  • As it got more responsibilities, it needs more control over the planning & design stage
  • It uses Comsof Heat to calculate costs and design a high-level network

The Netherlands have an ambitious climate action plan. Their goal is to reduce carbon emissions with 95% by 2050 compared to 1990. The city of Rotterdam is helping to reach this objective. One of its measures is to eliminate the use of natural gas. An extensive district heating network rollout is part of this plan.

Large networks

“Some city areas already have a district heating network”, explains Roland van Rooyen, advisor Sustainable development at Rotterdam City. In the near future, Dutch municipalities will have to cooperate more with local partners such as utility companies and communities to further build this network. “We are talking about large new projects, with 3000 to 6000 connections. It is our job to deliver the necessary data and to evaluate the project’s economic viability.”

“We are talking about large new projects, with 3000 to 6000 connections.”
Roland van Rooyen

“It is the municipality’s task to get rid of their dependency on natural gas. To find the right alternative, we need to be able to estimate costs and in case of a district heating network how much space is needed below and above ground to connect to the existing system.”

“We want to bring a transparent and realistic story to the end users of the network. In addition we must make sure that the energy company does not just connect the most interesting users, but provides the possibility for every building to connect. This requires a much more active role from our side, and to do this we need a modern tool.”

From the basics towards more detail

“Before we used Comsof Heat, we generated some basic information with the help of Excel. We calculated some core numbers such as trenching costs and high-level pipe infrastructure costs based on their lengths. So we had a basic cost estimation, however we did not have a geographical design.”

“Last year, we came into contact with Kurt Marlein of Comsof. Comsof Heat was the solution we were looking for, more insights without losing ourselves in details.”

Now we have more insights, without losing ourselves in details.”
Roland van Rooyen

“Comsof Heat uses geographical (GIS) resources, which facilitates our analysis of the available data”, explains engineer F.M. Freyne Hechavarria (geotechnical and GIS advisor). “We can generate reference designs and advanced deployment scenarios. We calculate the cost of installing connection infrastructure on beforehand, allowing us to connect dwellings in a next phase. All this information provides us with a clear image of spatial occupation and risk management.”

“We can also consider more infrastructure in our analysis, such as substations and their location. This provides a more realistic estimation in addition to the design visualization.”

“Of course the proof is in the pudding. A tool is only valuable when the estimates appear to be a good reflection of the actual build. Our experience with the software tells us that our calculations indeed provide a valuable and realistic view of the real project costs.”

Comsof Heat calculations provide a valuable and realistic view of the real project costs.”
F.M. Freyne Hechavarria

Not a top-down software

“The Comsof support is top notch. Queries are handled quickly, and we work together to find solutions. This is not a top-down software, there is continuous development to make it more powerful, more flexible. We want to move towards the rollout of the next generation of district heating networks, and Comsof is developing the necessary features for this as we speak.”

“Keep up the good work!”