The Hamburg metropolitan region is playing a leading role in the thermal energy transition, as numerous projects of the expert network "Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster" demonstrate. The basic requirement: the coupling of different energy sectors for an energy system of the future. The German government's Climate Action Plan 2050 states that the building sector may only emit 70 to 72 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2030. Decisive factors for achieving this climate protection target are, in addition to building renovation, high energy efficiency and low-CO2 heating networks.
Heat supply still offers a lot of potential for reducing CO2
Just in time for the start of the heating season, the eastern part of Hafencity will be supplied with CO2-free industrial heat from the Aurubis copper smelter. To achieve this, the multi-metal company decouples heat generated in a secondary process of copper refining. It is transferred to the eastern part of Hafencity through a 3.7 km long heating pipeline. Through process engineering modifications and changes to the systems, in a first step, it will be possible to decouple 160 gigawatt hours. The power supply company and Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster member enercity will take about three quarters of this capacity to supply the new district. Aurubis will use the remaining heat for internal purposes. Up to 20,000 tons of CO2 can thus be saved each year. Technically, it would even be possible to decouple three times this amount of heat, but the economic and political conditions for this are still lacking.
The Danish technology company Danfoss, also a member of the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster, is supporting Europe's largest urban development project with innovative energy concepts by combining district heating with other technologies such as solar thermal and fuel cells. The Hamburg Elbphilharmonie (Elbe Philharmonic) is setting new standards – not only with its excellent acoustics – but also with its outstanding energy management. Thanks to ultra-modern components and systems for drinking water and district heating, it achieves exceptional energy efficiency and helps Hamburg to achieve its target from 2015 of cutting its energy consumption, and thus CO2 emissions, in half by 2030 compared to 1990.
Sector coupling is the motor of the thermal energy transition
Further north, in the middle of the Karolinenviertel quarter of Hamburg, one of the largest power-to-heat plants in Germany began operation yesterday. The "Karoline" electric boiler clearly demonstrates the potential of sector coupling: Wind power can be converted into heat for heating and fed into the district heating network. The second job for the electric boiler, which is operated by the EEHH Cluster member Vattenfall, is to ensure the heat supply in particularly cold weather or in case of failure of other heat supply systems. The plant has a capacity of around 45 megawatts, allowing it to supply 13,500 apartments with environmentally friendly heat.
Jan Rispens, Managing Director of Erneuerbare Energien Hamburg Clusteragentur: "Thanks to the diverse pioneering work in the field of sector coupling, Hamburg is playing a leading role in the thermal energy transition. But it is crucial that the technical, economic and regulatory framework conditions are now developed in such a way that success can be achieved not only in individual pilot projects, but in a broad market deployment. However, we are not yet seeing the same dynamics as in the electricity sector, although the energy saving potential from a forward-looking, efficient and sustainable heat supply is enormous."
The share of renewable energy in the heat supply sector is currently around 13% and is only slowly increasing. In the electricity sector, on the other hand, the share of renewables rose from around six percent in 2000 to around 36 percent in 2017. According to the coalition agreement of the Federal Government, 65 percent of the electricity consumed in Germany is to come from renewable energies by 2030. Portions of this generated electricity are to be used for sector coupling in the areas of heat supply and mobility.