Research Spotlight

Solar District Heating Rapidly Expanding its Networks

Launch of the European SDHp2m initiative in nine European regions

A Horizon 2020 project called SDHp2m (where SDH stands for solar district heating and p2m refers to “policy to market”) is underway with the aim of developing, improving, and implementing progressive policies and measures that support renewable heating networks. Over the three years of the project, initiatives should make a tangible difference to market developments. The program is being coordinated by Solites, the Steinbeis Research Center for Solar and Sustainable Thermic Energy Systems.

State authorities are functioning as project partners for the initiative in three key regions: Thuringia (Germany), Styria (Austria), and Rhône- Alpes (France). This will make it possible to implement measures directly and promote development in the three regions, thus providing an example to other regions in Europe. Six further regional authorities in Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden have also agreed to a statement of intent. Involvement in the European and German district heating alliance will safeguard close collaboration with district heating providers across the whole of Europe. “The political instruments and supporting measures provided by the SDHp2m program will give us a blueprint for developing solar heating networks in other European regions,” says Thomas Pauschinger, who is acting as the project coordinator for the Steinbeis Research Center for Solar and Sustainable Thermal Energy Systems (Solites).

An advisory group is being set up in each region involved in the project, consisting of experts from industry and politics. Their job will be to plan and implement activities aimed at stimulating the market for solar heating networks at a regional level. Their plans will take regional conditions and local differences into account. In parallel to this, the international partners will provide know-how to the regions and draw on experiences in pioneering countries such as Denmark.

A kick-off meeting has already taken place in the Thuringian city of Erfurt to fire the starting gun for close cooperation between the different regions of the EU involved in the project. The aim is for each region to learn from the different political frameworks and market conditions in the other regions, and there are enough overlapping issues to work on for the next three years, such as weak legislation, land availability, and funding.

Previous SDH programs showed that there was clear interest among market players to hear more about experiences with projects that have been implemented already and that direct contact with other key players was essential for collaboration to succeed. As a result, there are initial plans to organize tours around SDH facilities in order to find ways to share know-how and set up more events. “It will be important to show the politicians and market players in Thuringia what other European regions are doing to not just implement SDH technology but also to meet their environmental protection obligations,” underscored Dr. Martin Gude, who heads up the department of Energy and Climate Policy in the Thuringian Ministry for the Environment, Energy, and Natural Conservation. The 4th International SDH Conference has already been lined up by the initiative’s partners for September 21-22, this time in Billund in Denmark. Further information on solar heating networks, the SDHp2m program, and the next converence can be found by going to

DRAGON STAR Plus Helps Promote Sino- European Collaboration

Collaboration between the EU and China is important for the field of science and technology in order to tackle global challenges.

A multinational EU project called DRAGON STAR Plus is bringing European and Chinese parties together to provide a platform for fostering international collaboration, to improve information exchange on European and Chinese funding programs, and to facilitate policy dialogue on science and technology. The Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum is a partner on the program.

Global issues are best tackled together: China’s change in strategy to provide more public funding for research and innovation makes the country an important partner in addressing global challenges and this means that it will be essential to work together closely and support one another at an international level. Since early 2015, a number of central European and Chinese research institutions, academic bodies, innovation backers, government ministries, and support agencies have been helping with this process as part of an initiative called DRAGON STAR Plus. Measures include:

  • Support for European and Chinese researchers to facilitate collaboration as part of European and Chinese funding programs
  • A collaboration platform and a toolkit for policymakers
  • Promotion of cooperation between funding agencies to allow them to exchange ideas on key priorities

To promote closer collaboration on technology and innovation, the Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum is organizing a sino-European collaboration fair in Stuttgart on July 8. The event will revolve around ICT issues with a bearing on connected manufacturing and advanced production technology. The aim is to provide a vehicle for getting to know innovative Chinese organizations, to find out more about the nature of transnational collaboration, and to explore current trends and sino-European ICT collaboration strategies. For more information on the collaboration fair go to

Share this page