Innovative pricing mechanisms should motivate heat suppliers and consumers to move toward more sustainable energy systems and introduce low-temperature district heating systems and sector coupling in smart energy systems. Therefore, district heating regulation regimes should also be changed to stimulate transformations in the energy sector.

The district heating tariffs depend on many factors, including fuel prices, operational parameters, taxes, investments, and other criteria. Therefore, an analysis of the DH tariffs has been implemented to find solutions to motivate DH enterprises towards energy efficiency and climate neutrality. The analysis results are based on the decision-making assessment approach by selecting various criteria and evaluating them from five significant aspects: engineering, environmental, climate, economic and socioeconomic.  The central elements within the developed fuzzy cognitive mapping model are investment costs, heat production costs, and primary energy consumption. Considering the set boundary conditions, the most beneficial method for smart heat tariff definition could be heat tariff benchmarking with integrated energy efficiency standards for DH operators.

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