The ENTRAIN story

ENTRAIN's story was chosen as best entry of the #longstorycutshort writing contest launched by Interreg Central Europe in March 2021. Read it here:

Just imagine: You are sitting at home and evening is approaching. A gulf of fresh air comes in from the open window and you start feeling chilly. You switch on the heating, but the familiar sound of your little gas boiler is simply not there. You wonder why and realise that there is no gas boiler anymore! Thanks to the ENTRAIN project!

In central Europe we still burn many fossil fuels and do too little to take the use of renewables forward, despite the existence of ready solutions, like revamping district heating networks to be powered by renewables. However, such approaches often lack the support of effective policies or investments. ENTRAIN’s challenge at the start of the project was therefore to find ways to help the adoption of centralised renewable district heating networks. The use of renewable district heating systems started in Northern Europe: In Denmark, for example, the use of large solar thermal plants to supply district heating networks with clean and cheap energy began already at the end of the 1980s and then spread to central Europe, especially Austria and Germany. ENTRAIN builds on these experiences and collects available knowledge to help heating plants operate on quality standards and to assure economic and environmental sustainability.

In one of the ENTRAIN pilot regions, Neckar-Alb (Baden-Württemberg) the strategy adopted by ENTRAIN is user-oriented: Great steps forward are being made in involving citizens in the full renovation of the village of Pfronstetten. A different approach is taken in Friuli Venezia Giulia, where the project supports local administrations to link public incentives for biomass district heating to a quality management system.

Cooperation is central for all these activities. The transnational knowledge exchange helps to define challenges more concretely and to find the right tools to solve them. Smaller, quality-focused district heating would otherwise still be a faraway dream. In the past three years of cooperation, ENTRAIN has carried out 25 training sessions, 9 pilot local district heating networks. The project partners also developed 5 local action plans and they are now close to achieving them all. They also expect that after the project ends in 2022, the pilot regions will further benefit and learn from the best practices initiated within ENTRAIN, the local economy will grow and the towns will learn to be more resilient.

This way the first image will come true thanks to ENTRAIN: You will hopefully soon be able to close the window and heat your living room thanks to a small, centralised district heating system that runs on solar energy or on waste heat produced from the local industry.

The ENTRAIN story has been published on the Cooperation is Central - Interreg CE blog

[Picture: ENTRAIN team at Rottenburg University, november 2019]