This paper defines the concept of 4th Generation District Heating (4GDH) including the relations to District Cooling and the concepts of smart energy and smart thermal grids. The motive is to identify the future challenges of reaching a future renewable non-fossil heat supply as part of the implementation of overall sustainable energy systems. The basic assumption is that district heating and cooling has an important role to play in future sustainable energy systems - including 100 percent renewable energy systems - but the present generation of district heating and cooling technologies will have to be developed further into a new generation in order to play such a role. Unlike the first three generations, the development of 4GDH involves meeting the challenge of more energy efficient buildings as well as being an integrated part of the operation of smart energy systems, i.e. integrated smart electricity, gas and thermal grids. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Energy, Volume 68, 15 April 2014,