District heating is a form of decentralized energy that has the potential to play a key role in stabilizing climate change. To dispense this decentralized energy from the heat source to the end-users, a heat network is needed. To realize (the potential of) these networks, there are a wide variety of issues to consider and barriers to overcome.
Law plays an important role in framing understandings of both heat networks and the legal design with regard to these networks. The article focuses on the legal challenge of land use to develop heat networks. Since developers do not have property rights on all the plots of land they want to use to realize their hear project, they need to secure appropriate land rights in order to locate their network in third party land. These land rights can be included in various legal instruments. It needs to be precisely determined what kind of rights one can obtain and which of those rights would be the most suitable for a particular district heating project.
The findings of the analysis indicate that a “one size fits all”-model is not the most appropriate policy to address issues on the complex and evolving crossroads of energy law, property law and contract law. A customized legal design is necessary to synchronize the interests of all stakeholders involved.European Energy and Environmental Law Review