Planning tool for buildings & districts

Advantages of 5GDHC networks

5th generation district heating and cooling networks offer numerous advantages over conventional heating networks. Learn more about possible disadvantages here.


  • 5GDHC networks can provide both heating and cooling.
  • Low-temperature waste heat sources, such as heat recovery from waste water or from cooling applications, can be exploited without raising the temperature.
  • Ambient heat can be used as heat source. This includes ambient air, lakes, the sea or rivers.
  • Due to the low network temperatures, there is almost no heat loss from the pipes to the ground.
  • The use of decentralized heat pumps forms a strong coupling between the heat and power sectors and increases flexibility towards the power grid.
  • Heating and cooling demands can be partially balanced by a 5GDHC network. This reduces the heat and cold feed-in at the energy hub.
  • The installation costs of 5GDHC networks are much lower when using uninsulated plastic pipes compared to conventional district heating networks.
  • The installation of the heat network can be combined with the installation of other infrastructure (electricity and fiber optics), which greatly reduces the cost of earthworks.
  • The installation of a centralized probe field is more cost-effective than the installation of many decentralized probe fields.
  • Due to the diversity (peak load reduction in heating networks), the required number of geothermal probes or their depth is reduced.
  • Uninsulated pipes act as heat collectors to extract heat from the surrounding soil.
  • By using a heat pump in each building, the flow temperature of the 5GDHC network (unlike in conventional heating networks) is no longer dependent on the required flow temperatures of the supplied buildings (exergetic upgrading at the consumer).
  • Systematic monitoring of each building heat pump ensures a high coefficient of performance (heat pump efficiencies).
  • The bundled purchase of decentralized heat pumps and a uniform installation scheme in all buildings lead to cost reductions.
  • Consumers can be gradually connected to the 5GDHC network. 5GDHC networks are therefore easier to expand on a modular basis.
  • Consumption-dependent costs are incurred by the customer (electricity costs of the heat pump in the building).
  • The electricity self-generated by PV systems can be used in the building to operate the heat pump.
  • No local emissions (particulate matter, exhaust, noise).
  • No storage room required for fuel (fuel oil, pellet or wood chips).
  • The heat supply becomes increasingly ecological as the renewable share in the power grid increases and achieves full sustainability automatically together with the power grid.
In the nPro tool, the balancing of heating and cooling demands in districts can be considered and quantified.

Disadvantages of 5GDHC networks

Whether a 5GDHC network is more suitable for a district than a conventional heating network depends on the boundary conditions and available heat sources. Central disadvantages of 5GDHC networks are discussed here.


  1. Buffa et al.: 5th generation district heating and cooling systems: A review of existing cases in Europe, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 104:504-522, 2019.

This might also interest you

nPro software

Plan your energy system with nPro!


We inform you about new tool features and services.