The city of Hamburg bets on geothermal for district heating plans

Date: 27 May 2019

The local utility in the city of Hamburg, Hamburg Energie wants to expand its district heating system with Northern Germany’s largest project for geothermal energy, if it receives necessary federal funding.

A major project by local utility Hamburg Energie aims to make Wilhelmsburg a pioneer of urban heat supply, as reported Die Welt. The subsidiary of Hamburg Wasser intends to expand its district heating system around the energy bunker in Wilhelmsburg with a geothermal plant and a large aquifer storage facility. Potentially, Northern Germany’s largest project for geothermal energy.

The prerequisite for this is that the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is supporting the EUR 80 million project in the series of so-called real laboratories for the energy transition, said Michael Prinz, Managing Director of Hamburg Energie, WELT: “We have a unique opportunity in Wilhelmsburg, up to 70,000 inhabitants, both in the existing building as well as in the future new building, to supply heat from a decentralized, fully integrated producer park and at the same time unlock the door for geothermal energy in northern Germany. ”

Hamburg Energie has applied for one of the first four real laboratories, which the Federal Ministry of Economics wants to launch nationwide, in order to promote the energy transition. More than a quarter of the investment could take over the federal government, if the project in Wilhelmsburg is awarded the contract. “Through the real laboratory, we would like to get start-up financing for our geothermal project, where there are additional costs due to the initial realization,” said Prinz. “In operation, the project would later be self-supporting for 40 years without further funding.”

The Energiebunker emerged from the International Building Exhibition (IBA), which Hamburg had realized from 2006 to 2013. The former flak bunker was converted into a combined cycle power plant for the generation and storage of electricity and local heat. On the facade, solar power and solar heat systems are installed, and in the interior, above all, a large hot water storage tank and a combined heat and power plant that combines electricity and heat.

7,500 square meters would be for the planned drilling site
After the IBA, Hamburg Energie commercialized the energy bunker in order to put the heat and electricity supply in Wilhelmsburg on an ecologically sustainable basis. “The district heating network of the energy bunker currently has about 1700 apartments and additional commercial space,” says Joel Schrage, head of the heating network at Hamburg Energie. “We are in full competition with all other energy sources. We are an open district heating network and can also absorb heat from third parties, such as waste heat from industry or solar thermal heat from the roofs. ”

Until now, the Nordische Ölwerke in Wilhelmsburg have been feeding waste heat into the grid. Clients of the heating network include very different customers: “In the insular location of Wilhelmsburg, we can combine all energy sources for heat supply,” says Michael Prinz, “but we also have a completely inhomogeneous structure of energy consumers, from private households, commercial customers and industry to schools or cultural centers. ”

Hamburg Energie has been working on the geothermal project for ten years. “Geothermal energy with energy sources at great depths has great potential, not only in southern Germany, but especially in Northern Germany,” says Thomas-Tim Sävecke, Head of Production at Hamburg Energie. “With our drilling at 3500 meters depth, we want to use geothermal heat of 130 degrees directly without a heat pump. In the course of the real laboratory, we also want to build an aquifer storage facility with over 20 gigawatt storage capacity, with an injection capacity of eight megawatts and an extraction capacity of five to six megawatts. ”

A plot of land in Wilhelmsburg is planned for the geothermal plant. “The planned drilling site is on the edge of Wilhelmsburger island. We need about 7,500 square meters for the construction site, “says Sävecke. “We can start implementing the geothermal project in Wilhelmsburg in 2020 and realize it by 2023. It would be the largest of its kind in Northern Germany to date and a true real laboratory. “Other geothermal projects, including those in Hamburg, were waiting for Hamburg Energie to realize its plant:” In this respect, we have the pioneering project in our hands. ”