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Software tools for municipal heat planning

For the energy and heat transition, municipal heat planning is of great importance. Different calculation tools have been developed for heat planning at the municipal level, which support the conceptual design of an efficient heat supply.

Tools for planning local energy systems

The energy and heat transition is one of the biggest challenges on the way to achieving the climate targets. On this page you find tools that support decision makers in creating efficient heat supply concepts. Some tools have been developed within national or international research projects. On the one hand, these are tools that help to visualize heat demand and heat supply. These are often GIS-based software solutions (GIS: Geographic information system), which illustrate heat demand clusters on a geographic map. On the other hand, there are a number of calculation tools that help to select the best supply concept. These tools help to answer questions such as:

  • What proportion of the heat demand in a district or urban area can be met by solar thermal energy?
  • Is a PV system with a large-scale heat pump an economical option?
  • Can hydrogen technologies be a technologically and economically viable addition to a district or urban area?

Due to the diversity of issues in municipal heat planning, there are many different software tools for planning support.

Tools and calculation guides

Some software tools for municipal heat planning are listed below.

Heat atlas

Many federal states in Germany provide so-called heat atlases. These are interactive maps that show the heat demand density in cities and regions. In addition, heat sources, such as waste heat potentials, can be drawn in. This information can be used to get an overview of the regions in which a heat network could be a suitable supply solution and which heat sources would be promising to be developed for this purpose. As an example, the heat maps of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria are linked.


The web-based HOTMAPS program was created as part of a European research project. It is used to quantify and visualize energy demands. In addition, it contains calculation models that estimate the economic efficiency of possible heating networks and provide information about the development of energy consumption and the regionally available renewable energies. The tool is available at

Tools for planning of heat supply concepts

Once a specific area has been selected for heat planning, planning and design tools can be used to design an initial supply concept. Some helpful planning tools are listed below.

ScenoCalc Fernwärme (ScenoCalc District Heating)

The Excel-based tool ScenoCalc Fernwärme (short: SCFW) was developed especially for heating networks, which are fed by solar thermal systems. The calculation of the collector yield is based on the DIN EN ISO 9806 standard and typical system components such as pipelines, heat exchangers and heat storage tanks can be taken into account. Furthermore, the time-resolved load profile of the heat network is taken into account in the simulation. The tool is an Excel spreadsheet with defined calculation rules, in which the user can change the input values. The tool requires solar thermal system knowledge to ensure that the input values have been chosen wisely. According to the software's publisher, the calculation results are for initial estimates only and do not represent a system design or final sizing. The tool is available at


The software tool nPro offered on this page should of course not be missing in the list of software calculation tools: nPro assumes that a specific supply area or district has already been defined for which an energy concept is created. If this is the case, the calculation takes place in three steps: First, the demand profiles are created, for which information on the building type and building standard as well as floor areas is required. In the second step, the calculation of the heat network takes place, which is simplified to the extent that no heat network topology needs to be known yet. In the last step, the optimal generation capacity for different technologies can be calculated, which can include heat storage, hydrogen technologies or large-scale heat pumps. The nPro tool can be tested free of charge here.


SOPHENA is a calculation tool for local heating networks. The acronym SOPHENA stands for software for planning heating plants and local heating networks (German: Software zur Planung von Heizwerken und Nahwärmenetzen). The tool is offered by the association Centrales Agrar-Rohstoff Marketing- und Energie-Netzwerk e.V.. The software itself is open-source, which means its source code can be viewed publicly on Github. The tool offers the possibility to carry out the technical and economic planning of a heat supply project quickly and soundly. A boiler and buffer storage simulator is integrated in the calculation tool, which determines annual duration curves and energetic key figures. When simulating heating plants, CHP plants and heat pumps can be taken into account in addition to boilers. The economic analysis is based on VDI 2067, which is also the basis for the nPro tool. Furthermore, the annual greenhouse gases as well as the heat occupancy density of the heating network can be output. The SOPHENA tool can be downloaded from

Guides to municipal heat planning

A number of guides have been developed for municipal heat planning, which facilitate the introduction to the topic.

Climate Protection and Energy Agency Baden-Württemberg

The Competence Center Heat Transition of the Climate Protection and Energy Agency of the State of Baden-Württemberg (Germany) offers free information material on the topic of municipal heat planning. Their guide to municipal heat planning (only available in German), for example, offers an interesting introduction.

Information material of the Agency for Renewable Energies (AEE)

The Agency for Renewable Energies (AEE, Germany) has produced its own guide to municipal heat planning. It explains the most important points to consider in heat planning, shows the interrelationships between different regional actors, and explains how municipalities and citizens can establish a local network to strategically initiate a renewable heat supply at the municipal level. The guide can be downloaded here (available in German only). Furthermore, a short video entitled The Municipal Heat Plan has been produced by the Renewable Energy Agency, which highlights the main steps and reasons for creating a heat plan at the municipal level.

Information material of the state of Schleswig-Holstein

The Guide to Municipal Heat Planning, created by the state of Schleswig-Holstein (Germany) in 2014, explains the steps for carrying out municipal heat planning. It is intended to enable municipalities to carry out heat planning independently. The guide provides information on the various measures and concrete planning steps in the context of municipal heat planning and offers a wealth of information on this. The guide can be downloaded here (only available in German).

The nPro tool helps to create and analyze heat supply concepts quickly and easily.

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