District heating and cooling: Enabling modernisation and fuel switch through support for investment plans and skills development


Programme Category

EU Competitive Programmes

Programme Name


Programme Description

The LIFE Programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation by co-financing projects with European added value. After 22 years, €3.4 billion and 4.170 projects, the LIFE Programme continues to finance actions for the environment and climate action. For the 2021-2027 the total budget of the LIFE Programme is €5.4 billion.

Programme Details

Identifier Code



District heating and cooling: Enabling modernisation and fuel switch through support for investment plans and skills development


District heating operators/owners need to prepare and implement plans so that existing systems fulfil the proposed criteria for ‘efficient district heating and cooling’, as proposed for the revision of the EED. This will require, among other aspects, the cost-effective and energy efficient retrofitting of existing, inefficient district heating networks and the integration of low-temperature renewable energy (e.g. from solar thermal, ambient energy and geothermal resources) and waste heat, including supported by heat pumps. Furthermore, district heating has been identified as a key option for the decarbonisation of the heating sector in countries and regions without long tradition and experience in the technology.

The option to further develop district heating and cooling systems should be integrated in energy planning and heat mapping by public administrations, taking a district approach when addressing the policy priority of deploying renewable and efficient heating and cooling, including for instance building or modernising district heating systems when planning renovation programmes.

Detailed Call Description

Scope A: Technical support for the development of investment plans for the modernisation, fuel switch and system integration of existing district heating systems
Proposals should work with operators/owners of existing district heating systems and provide them with the required technical support for the preparation of investment plans to fulfil the criteria for ‘efficient district heating and cooling’ as defined in the revised Energy Efficiency Directive.

The focus should be on identifying concrete ways to modernise the systems and to integrate low-temperature renewable energy or waste heat (the latter defined in the Renewable Energy Directive). However, the transformation into low-temperature of the district heating networks is not compulsory and other feasible approaches enabling the fuel switch to low-temperature renewable energy or waste heat are possible.

The investment plans should include the detailed identification of the investments, their timing, the internal and external resources required, the public and private funding sources, in particular for the first tranches of investments and the potential identification of alternative funding sources and models. The investment plans to be produced should enable the targeted district heating system to fulfil the criteria for “efficient district heating and cooling” as proposed for the Energy Efficiency Directive Recast within in a timeline of 10 years.

Activities should include, among others, financial planning and pre-feasibility studies including, where relevant, the assessment of the compatibility with the existing building stock and options to link district heating retrofitting to local building renovation plans.

Additionally, proposals should clearly demonstrate the interest/commitment of the district heating operators receiving support, and explain the content of the support to be provided and how the consortium will deliver this support on the ground. Proposals should promote replication by other district heating operators/owners.

Scope B: Skills development of professionals, operators and public authorities
Proposals should strengthen the capacity of targeted professionals across the district heating and cooling value chain (including white collar workers) and/or civil servants in national, regional and local authorities.
In particular, proposals should provide the technical and practical knowledge required to:

  • develop new district heating and/or cooling systems based on low-temperature renewable energy sources and waste heat; and/or
  • modernise and integrate low-grade renewable energy and waste heat sources into existing systems; and
  • operate district heating networks at low temperatures.

This could cover, among others, one or more of the following aspects:

  • Development, testing and validation phase of new and/or upgrade and replication of existing training schemes, including on-site training and mentoring schemes.
  • Development or upgrade and dissemination of technical guidelines, including for buildings preparation for low-temperature district heating and solutions for heat storage.
  • Capacity building for deploying renewable and efficient district heating and cooling networks, integrating district heating development and building renovation programmes, including links with planning and heat mapping.

Activities should:

  • build on the lessons learned and material developed from previous projects and other programmes.
  • be based on concrete successful examples.
  • be tailored to local contexts.
  • enable peer-to-peer learning; and
  • be carried out, where applicable, through the use of existing software and tools.

Call Total Budget

€6 500 000

Financing percentage by EU or other bodies / Level of Subsidy or Loan


Expected maximum EU contribution: Scope A: €1 750 000, Scope Β: €1 500 000

Thematic Categories

  • Energy
  • Environment and Climate Change
  • Public Administration

Eligibility for Participation

  • International Organisations
  • Investment Funds
  • Private Bodies
  • Semi-governmental organisations
  • State-owned Enterprises

Eligibility For Participation Notes

In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must be legal entities (public or private bodies) established in EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs) or listed EEA countries and countries associated to the LIFE Programme (associated countries) or countries which are in ongoing negotiations for an association agreement and where the agreement enters into force before grant signature.

Where relevant, applicants should aim to bring together employers, trade unions as well as training providers.

For public authorities, activities may also aim to support the development or strengthening of an enabling regulatory environment.

Proposals must be submitted by at least 3 applicants (beneficiaries; not affiliated entities) from 3 different eligible countries.

Call Opening Date


Call Closing Date


National Contact Point(s)

Department of Environment

Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment

Contact Persons 
Marilena Papastavrou
Environment Officer, National Contact Point for Environment
Telephone: +357 22 408 926
Email: mpapastavrou@environment.moa.gov.cy

Chrystalla Papastavrou
Environment Officer, National Contact Point for Climate
Telephone: +357 22 408 962
Email: cpapastavrou@environment.moa.gov.cy

EU Contact Point

European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency



Contact: https://cinea.ec.europa.eu/contact-0_en