An Action Plan for Growing District Energy Systems Across Canada

The 200 stakeholders that participated in this study widely agreed that the District Energy (DE) solution was a sensible, if not essential, element to the future of Canadian energy systems. Many were familiar with the ways that DE had contributed to energy, economic and environmental sustainability in other countries around the world. Respondents largely shared a vision for DE that involved significantly growing DE penetration in their communities.

Given this view, it is not surprising that there existed considerable frustration amongst participants that DE systems have not gained the market penetration that many wish to see. These are not new technologies. Feedback overwhelmingly indicated that DE solutions involve well-understood and well-applied technologies, and have had positive economic, energy and environmental results in many jurisdictions. Despite this, the Canadian DE industry remains small
and fragmented.

It is for this reason that this study, commissioned in 2010 by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is so important and timely. Policymakers across Canada are faced with the coincident challenges of urban intensification, growing energy demands, aging energy infrastructure and rising replacement costs for new and refurbished energy services. Finding new innovative approaches to meeting community energy demand, while also meeting environmental and energy efficiency imperatives, were goals desired by all of the stakeholders we interviewed. This research provides insight into
future visions for DE, better understanding of the perceived and existing challenges to developing or expanding DE systems and views on the most effective means of overcoming these challenges.

The findings contained within this study are informed by results obtained through three research methods—a web-based online summary, in-person group consultation sessions, and a series of individual in-depth telephone interviews.



Research Report


June 2011


Canadian District Energy Association
CanmetEnergy of Natural Resources Canada