09 Jun 2023, 13:39
Benjamin Wehrmann

New wind power-to-heat plant in northern Germany capable of supplying thousands of households


A large new power-to-heat facility, running on wind energy has come into operation in the northern German city of Hamburg which is technically capable of providing about 27,000 households with low-carbon district heating, public broadcaster ARD reported. Economy and climate action minister Robert Habeck inaugurated the installation, which has a capacity of 80 megawatts and will use excess wind power in windy northern Germany from turbines that so far have been turned off in similar situations due to a lack of transmission capacities, ARD reported. The power-to-heat facility heats 23,000 litres of water to nearly 140 degrees celsius, which can then be fed into Hamburg’s district heating grid. “We use electricity which otherwise would not be produced but had to be paid for anyway,” Habeck said.

The minister is currently under pressure to present viable solutions for decarbonising Germany’s heating supply in line with the climate targets. A highly controversial proposal to ban the sale of new conventional gas and oil heating systems by 2024 and to focus on the use of heat pumps has been held up by government coalition disputes, especially between Habeck’s Green Party and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP). Industry representatives have argued district heating powered by renewables could make a substantial contribution to the energy transition. Habeck and his government colleague Klara Geywitz, construction minister from the Social Democrats (SPD), will hold a joint summit on 12 June to discuss the possibilities for using district heating in the country.

The plant in Wedel is not Germany’s first wind power-to-heat installation but one of the largest to date. The city state plans to turn off its coal-fired plants for heating by 2030 and to mainly replace them with plants that can run both on natural gas and on hydrogen.

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