13 Mar 2024, 13:27
Benjamin Wehrmann

Berlin starts building large heat pump to warm 45,000 households with wastewater

Clean Energy Wire / rbb

Construction of one of the largest heat pumps in Europe has started in Berlin in a bid to bring the German capital closer to its goal of decarbonising its heating system. The heat pump, with a capacity of 75 megawatts, will use residual heat from cleaned wastewater and will supply about 45,000 households with district heating, operator Vattenfall said. “This kind of large heat pump allows us to tap into energy sources that so far have rarely been used for the heat supply of our cities,” said Germany’s economy minister Robert Habeck at a visit to the installation’s construction site. He added that heat pumps enable the use of the heat energy contained in wastewater, rivers, lakes, or from geothermal sources to feed it into the grid. “These kind of heat sources exist in practically every city,” Habeck said, adding that heat pumps are emerging as the main technology for decarbonising the heating sector. Construction of the pump, built by Siemens Energy, is expected to cost about 200 million euros and it is slated to be operational by 2026. Together with a new steam turbine that uses heat from waste incineration at the Vattenfall site in Berlin’s Spandau district, around 80,000 households will be heated using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, the company said.

The City of Berlin aims to supply 10 percent of all households with heat from waste incineration by 2040 and generate one fifth of its heat with large heat pumps. Vattenfall’s plan to decarbonise the city’s heating also includes using power-to-heat installations, biomass, geothermal energy and modern natural gas plants that can be switched to running on hydrogen, the company said. The Swedish company has recently sold all of its heating plants for 1.6 billion euros to the city, public broadcaster rbb reported. Berlin’s mayor, Kai Wegner, said the project would help the city achieve its goal of becoming climate neutral by 2040, as heating with coal and gas currently accounted for about 40 percent of its carbon emissions. “If it works in Berlin, it can work anywhere,” Wegner added.

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