Germany has set itself the goal of achieving climate neutrality in the heating sector by 2045. Added to that, the current geopolitical situation and energy insecurity mean the pressure is on utilities companies to transform district heating networks, so they are no longer reliant upon fossil fuels.
The initial results of the , commissioned in March 2021 with funding from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Action, have come not a moment too soon.
The research project, which set out to establish the most efficient feed-in of renewables and runs until 2025, demonstrates that decentralised structures are the way forward for local heating systems in order to make use of waste heat and local renewable energy.
Furthermore, overall grid temperatures will have to be lower in line with the temperatures available when renewables are fed in. Complex new heating structures will also require a high level of digitalisation to ensure accurate temperature measurements at operating points.
Despite these considerable challenges, the potential of green district heating is substantial. “The market share of district heating in heat supply could be increased to 30 percent by 2030 and the share of renewable energies in district heating generation to up to 45 percent in the same period, " says Dr Stefan Hay, project leader at AGFW, in a .
Further research will be conducted at the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Systems’ special District LAB in Kassel in collaboration with practical partners. The test centre will have a flexible test network with connected stands for heat generators and consumers, as well as a test track for pipe tests. Digital regulation and operating conditions will be precisely set and measured there.
Dr Heiko Huther, Head of R&D at AGFW called for further funding to support the heating revolution: “After more than two years of waiting, federal funding for efficient heating networks (BEW) must finally come into force… we urgently need BEW to meet the goal of climate neutrality in the heating sector by 2045”.