By the year 2050, Germany’s entire stock of buildings is to become more or less completely climate-neutral. In order to achieve these energy-saving and climate-protection targets, the share of renewable energies in the heating and cooling supply needs to be further increased. Sun and wind are important renewable energy sources, but they are not always available. Flexible heat supply systems are needed to ensure a reliable energy supply.

This is exactly where the BestHeatNet project comes in. The scientists at the Centre for Innovative Energy Systems (ZIES) at Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences and the municipal utilities of the town of Kempen on the Lower Rhine are seeking to develop an optimised control system that allows the heat supply in a new housing development area in Kempen, on the Lower Rhine, to be flexibly adapted depending on the weather, the electricity prices and the heating demand. If one of these parameters changes, the system will switch to the most economical supply of energy. For this purpose, various heat and power generators will be incorporated into one system and linked to one another: this will include solar thermal systems, power-to-heat systems using a heat pump, a combined heat and power system and a battery-run PV system. By having access to “neural networks” the system can, for example, learn and automatically detect when there is high or low heat consumption.

The new district Auf dem Zanger will serve as a living laboratory until the project has been completed, allowing the local heating concept to be tested under real-life conditions in around 100 residential units. Due to its energy-saving and particularly environmentally-friendly mode of operation, the local heating network is to serve as a model for more extensive heating networks planned in Kempen.

Funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) as part of its Energy Research Programme, the project will run for five years from December 2018 to October 2023.