Heating the Future: Overcoming Challenges and Gaining Stakeholder Support for District Heating Transformation

District heating plays an important role in many studies and scenarios for reaching greenhouse gas neutrality in Germany’s heating sector. In some scenarios, the share increases to up to 30 % of the final energy demand for heat supply in buildings. Expanding and transforming district heating will not occur without significant effort; it will take a deliberate approach and appropriate measures to successfully achieve these goals. Technical and organizational challenges must be addressed, along with securing support and promoting social acceptance and active societal support among the various stakeholders. Therefore, in this research, barriers, and potential solutions are analyzed for the seven main stakeholder groups involved and affected by the extension and transformation of district heating in Germany. Furthermore, this study examines and discusses methods to increase acceptance and active societal support in Denmark, the Netherlands and France, based on literature, interviews and two stakeholder workshops. Consequently, measures to increase acceptance of and active societal support for district heating in Germany are specified.