Aurubis and enercity start up largest industrial heat supply in Germany

Date: 7 November 2018

With the words “Wärme frei!” (“Release the heat!”), heat began to flow to the Hamburg district HafenCity East today. On the Aurubis plant premises, First Mayor of Hamburg Peter Tschentscher, Environmental Senator Jens Kerstan, Aurubis AG CEO Jürgen Schachler, enercity AG CEO Susanna Zapreva, and Aurubis’ Head of Energy Affairs Ulf Gehrckens turned a large dial, starting up the new heat pipeline.

From now on, multi-metal company Aurubis will deliver CO2-free heat from its plant on the island of Peute to the energy service provider enercity through a newly constructed pipeline more than 3.7 km long. The heat will be supplied to HafenCity East. This heat is formed in a sub-process of copper production: The sulfur in the copper concentrates is processed as sulfur dioxide and then converted into sulfuric acid.

Industry provides solutions for the energy transition
Using this heat prevents more than 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year. For comparison: This is equivalent to the emissions of about 10,000 mid-range cars driving an average of 12,000 kilometers per year. About half of the CO2 reduction results from the replacement of natural gas used to produce steam on the Aurubis plant premises, while the other half is saved by delivering the waste heat to enercity. In HafenCity East alone, about 4,500 t of CO2 will be saved each year by the final expansion (target date: 2029).

“When it comes to copper production, Aurubis is already a global forerunner in environmental protection,” explained Jürgen Schachler. “With this project, however, we’re going one step further: We are actively improving the CO2 balance beyond our plant boundaries. This shows that we, as an energy-intensive industry, are a significant part of the solution in the energy transition. The project makes a substantial contribution to the heat transition – a sector that currently accounts for 50 percent of primary energy,” Susanna Zapreva said. “Industrial heat is forward-looking because urban heat sources enable a CO2-neutral energy supply – and the fruitful cooperation of all of the actors shows that there is strength in proximity! The key to the heat transition is in decentralized, tailored projects.”

Significant potential for further CO2 reduction
According to Jürgen Schachler, today’s commissioning of the project is only the beginning: “We are in a position to extract three times the current heat volume. In fact, we could prevent a total of about 140,000 tons of CO2 annually in this way.” This would be nearly equivalent to the level that the entire Hamburg industry established as a reduction target in a voluntary agreement starting in 2018. “There have to be further political measures to leverage this potential, for example by distributing free EU emissions trading certificates for CO2 emissions that are prevented beyond the plant premises,” Schachler continued. “Shaping the urban energy transition is one of the central objectives of the enercity group. We have the ambition of increasing the share of renewable, CO2-free heat to 50 percent together with our customers,” Zapreva emphasized. “Our experience with a number of decentralized heating grids, neighborhood concepts, and heating solutions for buildings in Germany and in the Baltic region makes us a reliable partner that places its customers’ success at the forefront. With innovative solutions like this project, we make heat in big cities green. Hamburg is a forerunner in this area.”

Recognition across Germany
The two participating companies invested over € 20 million each, 30 to 40 percent of which was publicly funded. Aurubis received funding from the German Reconstruction Loan Corporation (KfW), while enercity received support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the KfW. The funding was initiated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the Hamburg Authority for Environment and Energy (BUE).

In its size and complexity, the industrial heat project implemented by Aurubis and enercity is unique in Germany. It has therefore resonated strongly among experts. For instance, it is one of ten case examples for the project “Flagships of Energy-Efficient Waste Heat Use” started by the German Energy Agency (dena). In late September 2018, the Hamburg Renewable Energies Cluster honored the project with the German Renewables Award. It has also been nominated by dena for the Energy Efficiency Award. The winner will be announced in November. / Arubis