District cooling uses water chilled to around 5 to 6 degrees, Source: Wien Energie

District cooling – district heating’s hip new cousin is flourishing in Vienna

District cooling – district heating’s hip new cousin is flourishing in Vienna

Vienna’s energy company plans to invest millions in a district cooling system, saving tons of CO2. The system will piggyback on the existing heat infrastructure

Today, Vienna’s city-owned energy company (Wien Energie) announced that a new district cooling plant had started operating in Stubenring at the start of the summer season. District cooling is a fairly new concept in Europe, though it functions in much the same way as district heating, even using much of the same infrastructure.

At the same time, with climate change pushing record-breaking temperatures every year, the Viennese government is seriously planning to expand the service. According to an official statement, Vienna’s energy company should be able to supply 300 megawatts of cool energy by 2030, turning the Austrian capital into Europe’s cooling role model.

The benefits of district cooling

Last June, authorities in Vienna recorded the highest temperature since measurements began, with the heat reaching 30 degrees for 12 days. Furthermore, according to Wien Energie, the number of hot days in the country has doubled in the last 30 years, which makes finding a largescale solution to the problem an issue for many people.

The company has steadily been working on providing district cooling for the last 15 years, however, now they seem to have a long-term agenda and it has to do with emissions savings.

Currently, 180 buildings in the Austrian capital have district cooling, with an output of around 200 megawatts. This translates to a 50% CO2 emissions reduction and a 70% energy consumption, compared to conventional air conditioners. Furthermore, according to the company, district cooling has supplemented nearly 100,000 air conditioners, making the system carbon efficient and sustainable.

The company began working on the plant in Stubenring in 2020 and now that it is operational, it can reliably cool up to 300,000 square meters of floor space with an output of 15 megawatts.

According to an official statement, by 2030, the company should have 350 megawatts, dedicated to district cooling. Wien Energie’s CEO Michael Strebl explained that until 2027, the company is planning to invest around 90 million euros into developing production capacities for both the inner city and some districts outside of it.

Currently, the big clients for district cooling include large office buildings, gyms, a hotel and a university archive. The technology for cooling is much like what district heating uses – water at a certain temperature. Instead of feeding radiators hot water, though, the company sends in water chilled to 5-6 degrees.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU