The European Commission SAVE Programme 2001 prioritised District Heating (DH) and CHP and actions involving Candidate countries for EU accession. Modernisation of DH networks is an urgent problem because many of the networks are in a poor state of repair. At the same time successful DH schemes in western Europe demonstrate the positive community option offered by DH, serving all sectors and presenting opportunities for current and future carbon saving.
DH companies often find themselves faced with difficult problems and limited choices. Although the decision has often been made to retain networks for social and environmental reasons, achieving this presents political and financial challenges. The regulatory background is often not helpful, with markets distorted and in the worst cases customers are tempted to disconnect, making the future of such networks bleak. However, there are also examples of successful approaches to DH in CEE countries. These are evident where district heating systems have been, or are being, physically and organisationally modernised.