Envafors signs a 5-year agreement with Gradyent, taking the next step to manage its sector-coupled district heating networks  

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Envafors, a Danish multi-utility company responsible for operating the 240GWh district heating network in Slagelse and the 150 GWh district heating network in Korsør, has entered a groundbreaking 5-year partnership with Gradyent to deploy a cutting-edge Digital Twin.  

Envafors has successfully transitioned from fossil fuels to local biomass while significantly increasing its customer base. Now, Envafors is taking the next step in moving towards sustainable heat by introducing two 10 MW heat pumps that will operate closely together with the existing biomass CHPs and large heat accumulators. This advancement called for taking the next step in the underlying operating software as well. That is why Envafors decided to partner with Gradyent to implement a Digital Twin of its entire operation. 

The key objective of the company’s collaboration with Gradyent is to enable the real-time optimisation of both end-to-end district heating systems, co-optimising the production and distribution and, as a result, maximising the flexibility potential of the new setup to ensure clean, reliable, and affordable heat for its customers.  

Carsten Lunde, Head of District Heating at Envafors: "With the new heat pumps, we take the next step towards sustainable heat. Maximising the flexibility of the full system will be crucial for our operations. Gradyent has shown to be the only player that can deliver end-to-end optimisation of our district heating systems in a single software solution."

Rapid transformation calls for innovation 

Envafors is undergoing a rapid transformation, marked by the adding numerous new connections in both networks and the implementation of a 10 MW heat pump in each network.  

While such advancements promise increased efficiency, they also bring about new challenges. The growing system complexity meant Envafors could no longer treat district heating production, distribution, and users separately. Moreover, the complexity of increased sector coupling paired with introducing heat pumps entails operating much closer to the system limits and a vastly more interdependent system.   

To achieve its overarching goal of continuously delivering reliable and clean heat to its customers, Envafors needs to obtain a system-level view to obtain the necessary insights. This can only be done using a Digital Twin, which is capable of real-time calculations to determine the most cost-effective method of heat operations, considering the full complexity of the district heating system. 

Recognising the importance of system-level optimisation, Envafors has chosen Gradyent as its partner to build a future-proof heating system. Gradyent’s Digital Twin solution is trained on large volumes of Envafors’ own data, while insights are combined with physical models to ensure an accurate representation of the heating system, including all heat sources, hydraulic components, pipes and end customers. 


Making the Envafors heating grids future-proof with a real-time Digital Twin 

Envafors runs a complex and varied production setup. In Slagelse, the new heat pumps can acquire electricity directly from the biomass-fired CHPs. Yet, highly volatile electricity markets and price drops may render electricity acquisition from the market more cost-effective. 

In addition, the networks in Slagelse and Korsør have multiple large heat accumulators, adding an extra layer of complexity around optimal charging and discharging times. Moreover, temperatures and hydraulics are significant factors as each network has two heat production locations, leaving the company with a choice of which one to scale up or down in both power and temperature. While Envafors already runs at relatively low temperatures, any reduction will not only benefit in terms of heat losses but also heat pump efficiency (COP).  

The collaboration between Envafors and Gradyent will focus on implementing the Digital Twin first in Korsør and afterwards in Slagelse. The Digital Twin will be placed directly in the centralised control room where the operator team operates both networks.  

The operators will receive optimal control recommendations aimed at fostering trust in the Digital Twin via a secure connection to the SCADA systems. This new foundation brings Envafors closer to its vision is to ultimately run its district heating systems on automated control.  

Daniel Frank, Director Nordics & Baltics at Gradyent: “The Danish heating market is rapidly changing and adapting to a new reality, where increasingly complex systems demand a new level of operational excellence. We’re very happy to enter into this long-term partnership with Envafors, again showing how vital digitalisation is in enabling sustainable transformation."


Always up to date while continuing to expand 

To provide the optimal setpoints for operation, Gradyent ensures that the Digital Twin is continuously updated and in sync with the real-life situation. This is particularly relevant for Envafors, as the company is looking to add 2000-3000 connections per year until 2030.  

In contrast to previous software solutions that were deemed challenging to maintain and operate, Gradyent’s Digital Twin is facilitated through a modern Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. As a result, Envafors benefits from placing the Digital Twin at the heart of its operations, maximising efficiency as the system continues to transform and grow. 

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