Start for Hamburg regulatory sandbox for the heating transition

Ground-breaking energy transition project IW3 secures federal funding | Kiel University takes charge of accompanying scientific research

Establishing a nearly CO2-free decentralised heating supply for existing and new buildings, which requires no fossil fuels. The consortium led by the municipal green energy provider HAMBURG ENERGIE has taken a decisive step closer to this goal. Andreas Feicht, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) today (Tuesday, 11 August) handed over a funding approval notice for EUR 22.5 million, from the “Regulatory sandboxes for the energy transition” funding initiative. This enables the Hamburg project to now commence implementation. A research team from the Competence Centre Geo-Energy (KGE) at Kiel University (CAU) has assumed responsibility for the accompanying scientific research.

Michael Prinz, Managing Director of HAMBURG ENERGIE, is delighted about the funding approval from the BMWi: "The regulatory sandbox funding helps us with implementing this unique project in practice. With IW3, we offer a ground-breaking concept for the heating transition, which is based on renewable energies, in particular geothermal energy, and a local heating marketplace." Private households use more than three-quarters of their total energy consumption for heating alone, which mostly still comes from fossil fuel sources. "This holds very significant climate protection potential," explained Prinz. "With our project, we want to contribute towards making not only electricity - but also heating - more climate-friendly."

"Hamburg is on course for the heating transition. With "IW³ - Integrierte WärmeWende Wilhelmsburg" (Integrated Heating Transition Wilhelmsburg), Hamburg demonstrates how a regulatory sandbox functions in an urban environment," said Andreas Feicht, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, which has awarded the project a grant of EUR 22.5 million. "This is urban heating supply achieved using CO2-free energy. Regulatory sandboxes are innovation projects on an industrial scale, which accelerate the transfer of technologies for the energy transition in the market," added Feicht.

Jens Kerstan, Hamburg’s Senator for Environment and Energy, and Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of HAMBURG ENERGIE said that "Our regulatory sandbox with geothermal heat has the potential to become the prime example nationwide in Germany for the heating and energy transition in urban areas. Thus, Hamburg once again assumes a pioneering role in innovative energy transition projects. The funding allows for quicker transfer of research into practice, in order to test new technologies and solution approaches. For Hamburg, this is a further important step towards a climate-friendly city, and fits perfectly within our climate plan."

Nathalie Leroy, Managing Director of the HAMBURG WASSER group said that "This project is a great example of the cooperation within the HAMBURG WASSER group. Our subsidiaries HAMBURG ENERGIE and CONSULAQUA are both specialists in their respective fields, and could draw on their comprehensive know-how for this flagship project. With our combined expertise and conviction, we are driving projects within the group in which the security of supply and climate protection go hand in hand. IW3 aims to showcase how this can work in practice - fully in line with Hamburg’s climate protection."

Geothermal energy, aquifer storage and the heating marketplace as key elements

A central component of the IW3- Integrierte WärmeWende Wilhelmsburg (Integrated Heating Transition Wilhelmsburg) project is the renewable heat supply. In addition to existing producers such as wind power or solar energy, the use of geothermal energy forms a basis for production. Thus, the concept envisages the construction of a geothermal system which brings hot geothermal water from deep underground - from a depth of 3,500 metres - to the surface. The energy will be extracted from the water via heat exchangers and fed into a new district heating grid. The cooled water will flow back into the extraction zone.

With the additional integration of cross-sector technologies such as heat pumps and power-to-heat systems as well as the use of self-generated renewable electricity, there is the potential to achieve CO2-neutral supply. In order to be able to use excess summer heat during winter, construction of seasonal storage, so-called aquifer storage, is planned. This will enable various energy demands to be efficiently met using different energy availabilities. A digital heating marketplace will link all the local energy producers and consumers, thus facilitating cost-effective and climate-friendly energy supply to buildings.

The parties involved in the project

In addition to consortium leader HAMBURG ENERGIE, GTW Geothermie Wilhelmsburg GmbH, Consulaqua GmbH, HIR Hamburg Institut Research gGmbH, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg) and Kiel University (CAU) are also involved in the project.

HAMBURG ENERGIE GmbH: The municipal green energy provider is the consortium leader and coordinates the entire IW3 project. The company will build and operate the aquifer storage and also develop a digital heating marketplace.

GTW Geothermie Wilhelmsburg GmbH: Geothermie Wilhelmsburg GmbH is planning the implementation and operation of a geothermal doublet to bring geothermal water to the surface, which will provide a sustainable supply of energy for the local district heating grid in Wilhelmsburg. If suitable conditions can be found, the construction and operation of an ORC unit with additional power production is envisaged. As part of the accompanying research within the mesoTherm research project, during the drilling numerous geological locations will be investigated regarding their storage properties and optimal geothermal usability, for a follow-up project in Northern Germany.

CONSULAQUA Hamburg Beratungsgesellschaft mbH: CONSULAQUA Hamburg is a subsidiary of HAMBURG WASSER, and within IW³ is responsible for the planning and commissioning as well as the operational testing of a high-temperature aquifer thermal energy storage (H-ATES). This includes conceptualising a control system including the interfaces to the heating grid and heating marketplace, and laying the foundation for a regulatory framework for the use of the H-ATES technology as part of the heating transition.

Hamburg Institut Research gGmbH: The private research company is developing a framework for marketing green district heating products. Similar to green electricity, a new proof of origin register will in future enable green district heating to be marketed on a legally-sound basis. Proceeds from this will make it easier to refinance new projects for the production of renewable district heating.

Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften (HAW) Hamburg: HAW Hamburg will investigate the introduction of market principles in district heating networks for IW³. This includes both the simulation-based development of marketplace concepts, as well as their implementation in real operations under technical boundary conditions.

Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU): In the IW3 project, the Competence Centre Geo-Energy (KGE) in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the CAU is responsible for the accompanying scientific research into the operation of the aquifer thermal energy storage. One goal is to develop a monitoring system to detect possible environmental effects caused by the operation of ATES systems. Another goal is to further develop the regulatory framework for the construction and operation of such systems. Both are key aspects for the ability to monitor and obtain state approval for underground thermal storage.

Group photo
© Ulrich Perrey

Handing over the funding approval notice (from left to right): Nathalie Leroy (Managing Director of HAMBURG WASSER), Jens Kerstan (Hamburg’s Senator for Environment and Energy), Andreas Feicht (State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy), Michael Prinz (Managing Director of HAMBURG ENERGIE)

Aquifer storage in Wilhelmsburg (graphic)

Aquifer storage in Wilhelmsburg (graphic)

Geothermal drilling in Wilhelmsburg (graphic)

Geothermal drilling in Wilhelmsburg (graphic)

Heating marketplace of the IW³ (graphic)

Heating marketplace of the IW³ (graphic)

The concept of IW³ (graphic)

The concept of IW³ (graphic)

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