At a number of strategic locations across Germany, large-scale heat pumps are being installed in order to feed low-grade heat from reservoirs and industrial wastewater into the district heating network. The project, which is led by the German energy efficiency association AGFW, is the winner of the “Living Labs of the Energy Turnaround” prize, awarded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).
"Large-scale heat pumps open up a range of new heat sources for district heating that previously could not be fed into heating grids, or only in part, due to their low temperatures. These include, for example, environmental heat from bodies of water and waste heat from wastewater or industrial processes,” explains Dr Heiko Huther, managing director of the AGFW-Projekt GmbH and head of research and development at AGFW in a . He adds: “If electricity from renewable energies is used to operate the large heat pumps, we come a significant step closer to a CO2-neutral heat supply.”
The first “real laboratory” power plant locations are Berlin, Stuttgart, Mannheim and Rosenheim. Consortium partners include local utilities companies and the University of Stuttgart’s Institute of Energy Economics and Rational Energy Use (IER) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE).
The partners will investigate how heat pumps can be operated at plant sites of varying descriptions and what needs to be considered when feeding them into the heating networks. "Within the framework of the research project, we want to work out how the regulatory and economic framework conditions need to be adapted in order to make large heat pumps as usable as possible for district heating," says the AGFW’s managing director Werner Lutsch in the .
The ambitious research project has been funded with EUR 45 million, of which EUR 21 million comes from BMWi and the rest is from partners.