Veolia partners up with Gradyent to optimise and future-proof its district heating systems 

3 min read

Veolia in Poland, one of the largest district heating operators in the country, signs a long-term agreement with Gradyent to build Digital Twins with the goal of optimising and decarbonising their district heating systems, starting with Łódź and in Poznań as the second phase. 

The partnership is a vital part of Veolia’s ongoing transformation of its district heating systems towards 4G systems, building a solid foundation for a decarbonised future with low temperature and multiple-source district heating networks.
photo: CHP Plant no 4 - Veolia Energy Łódź

Veolia provides heating services in many cities and manages district heating networks of various sizes. Among them are three large agglomerations: Łódź, Poznań and Warsaw - the capital where Veolia is responsible for operating the longest district heating network in the European Union. 

Veolia's strategy to achieve climate neutrality requires modern digital solutions   

Veolia in Poland is consistently striving to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The roadmap includes comprehensive decarbonisation of not only its own assets, but the organisation's ambition is also to decarbonise the industrial sector, water utilities, residential buildings and public facilities.  

Energy efficiency is a priority, and Veolia in Poland already offers a wide range of efficiency solutions under a favourable ESCO model. Another area of activity with great potential is the closed-loop economy, including industrial waste management services (Total Waste Management) and waste-to-product valorisation to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills. Implemented innovations, both technological and digital solutions based on big data and artificial intelligence, are an important element in the implementation of the strategy. 

Digitalisation is likewise seen as a key ingredient to prepare for the future with more distributed sources and lower temperatures in the network as well as more heat storage options in accumulators, in the network or even buildings. It offers flexibility and optimisation potential at a scale that has not been available to date, especially when linking this to electricity markets. 

District heating systems operated by Veolia in Poland are well prepared for such a technological jump. Almost 100% of the 45,000 heating substations are equipped with telemetric systems operating on an Open Telemetry Platform (OPT). This highly reliable data transmission provides online data to a common database. More than 11,000 chambers are equipped with remotely controlled valves which enable online adjustments of network parameters. 

Veolia’s future ambitions require a digital solution that can grasp the complexity and potential of the full district heating system and optimise it from end to end, i.e. from production units, through a distribution network to demand side, in an integrated manner and within a single platform.  

Veolia in Poland was therefore looking for a partner who could understand and leverage the complexity of the company's extensive network, who had experience with large-scale network transformation projects and who could ensure that the solution offered was the most pragmatic. We believe that by partnering with Gradyent, we will jointly define the future of district heating, in which the network runs at lower temperatures while being optimised from source through the network to the consumer and against electricity markets.”  

  • Marek Froehlich, Director Energy Transformation Projects, Veolia in Poland 

The future of district heating through digitisation 

Veolia in Poland and Gradyent began their digitalisation journey in the city of Łódź in October 2023. In Poznań, the project is to start in 2024. The Łódź district heating system of Veolia currently provides around 60 per cent of users with heat using over 10,000 substations and two combined heat-and-power plants with a combined heat capacity of 1,624 MWth and 404 MWe. 

Likewise, the Poznań district heating system delivers heating to around 60% of residents through a combined heat-and-power plant with a capacity of 864 MWTth and 250 MWe and several additional distributed sources, and a large 24,000 m3 accumulator. Both heating systems will undergo a fast-paced transformation to allow the company to reach its climate neutrality objectives. 

The solution – the Digital Twin platform – offered by Gradyent creates a digital copy of its complex physical heating system that combines geographic, weather and sensor data with physics-based and AI models in real-time.  

In the first phase of the project in Łódź, the management of the district heating network will be optimised by supporting dispatchers in their daily work and providing them with the information required to run the network and sources efficiently. The solution will take into account heat demand, weather forecasts and electricity pricing. In turn, in Poznań, additional activities will include optimising the operation of substations in the system.

“At Veolia, we are continually implementing new sustainable technologies. This aspect is related, among others, to increasing the efficiency of district heating networks, which above all require the modernisation of the transmission infrastructure. And it is for this reason that we are taking numerous initiatives to change the current state of affairs, not only through appropriate renovations, but also through the digitalisation of the network. With the control and regulation function, it provides us with additional data to improve the district heating transmission process. Furthermore, we can offer competitive heat to Poles and help Poland achieve its climate goals faster"

Luiz Hanania, Chief Executive Officer and Country Director of Veolia in Poland, Chief Financial Officer for CEE.  

“We are proud to work with one of the largest district heating operators of Europe to reduce CO2 emissions, but also improve performance, save on operating costs and make smarter business decisions.”

Hervé Huisman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Gradyent

Share this article