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13 Oct 2023, 13:09
Benjamin Wehrmann

Southern German city launches country’s largest river-based heat pump

Clean Energy Wire

The largest river-based heat pump in Germany has started operations in the southern city of Mannheim. It will use water from the Rhine River to heat some 3,500 households, the local municipality MVV has said. With a capacity of 20 megawatts, the heat pump, constructed by Siemens, is one of the largest in Europe and will save about 10,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, MVV said. It will help to fully decarbonise the city’s district heating network and benefit nearby cities, such as Heidelberg or Speyer, the company said. The project was co-funded by the German government’s “Real Life Energy Transition Labs” programme, which earmarked some 21 million euros for five major projects for integrating heat pumps into district heating networks. The energy minister of the southern state of Baden-Wurttemberg, Thekla Walker from the Green Party, said the heat pump project in Mannheim fits into broader efforts by the state to achieve a climate neutral heating sector by 2040. “This will be done through innovation,” Walker said, adding that the MVV project had shown that heat pumps can contribute to climate action “also in an XXL-format.”  Vanessa Bauch, head of decentralised energy generation at Siemens Energy, said the large river heat pump could not only use natural heat potentials in rivers but also put waste heat from power plants to good use for district heating. “Powered with electricity from renewables, this technology could become an important lever for transforming the heating sector especially in urban areas,” Bauch argued.

District heating concepts are seen as a key measure for decarbonising Germany’s heating sector, with the government aiming to bring up to 100,000 households to district heat networks per year. As part of a wider package to decarbonise the country’s heating sector, the ministries are working on a law to reform municipal heat planning, which is supposed to give Germany’s states and municipalities clear rules for implementing a climate neutral heating infrastructure.

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