Witteveen+Bos creates district heating network studies with Comsof Heat

Discover how Witteveen+Bos has been using Comsof Heat for studies on the use of district heating networks in the Netherlands

In brief

  • Municipalities in the Netherlands are making plans to drastically reduce C02 output of the domestic area. District Heating based on sustainable sources is frequently a part of such plans.

The Challenge

Witteveen+Bos is one of the major consultancy and engineering companies in The Netherlands. Their areas of expertise include a) Infrastructure and Mobility, b) Energy, Water, and Environment, 3) Deltas, Costs, and Rivers, and 4) the Built Environment. Due to the increasing demand for energy transition solutions, they put together the business unit Energy Transition in 2018. This business unit helps developers, municipalities, regional authorities, and building owners to draw up strategies for their energy transition. District heating can be part of these strategies.

Like all engineering companies, Witteveen+Bos traditionally designed networks manually. This was an acceptable way to evaluate network options in the feasibility stage of a project. However, with the increase in projects and with more projects going to the designing process, Witteveen+Bos realised that a standardised solution that allowed them to automate the process would be helpful.

“Previously, we didn’t have a tool. We did the designs by hand, and used GIS to help draw the network,” says Jippe Beltman, Engineer Energytransition at Witteveen+Bos.  “This was fine for the projects I worked on before because it wasn’t always necessary to have such a detailed design. Clients basically needed a general calculation, whereas now they need detailed designs to help them make decisions.” The team decided to look for an automated software solution, and that’s when Comsof Heat came into the picture.

The Approach

The team trained on the software so they could get going on their project – a feasibility study for a municipality in The Netherlands. “It is necessary to get the training, but it doesn’t take very long. I think it took me an afternoon to understand how the software works,” said Jippe.

“A municipality asked us to do a small feasibility study for a district heating network using wastewater. They needed a quick estimate, that was as accurate as possible,” said Jippe. “I was happy to make a quick district heating design for them, so they could get a more accurate estimation of the cost. The software is valuable for us because it helps us to help our clients make a business case for district heating.”

With the government of the Netherlands demanding detailed district heating designs, the team expects their workload to increase. “There’s no doubt that Comsof is valuable for making business cases, but it also quickly outputs detailed designs. The visualization is a bonus. You get a map as a part of the output, and it looks very professional towards clients,” according to Jippe.

The Results

Witteveen+Bos concluded that Comsof Heat is a very useful tool whenever a project calls for a detailed district heating design or feasibility study. Jippe said, “Comsof is very in-depth, it makes my work easier, it could add a lot of value in bigger projects.”