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Status workshop in Dresden on the use of solar thermal energy in district heating
© BINE Informationsdienst
Status workshop takes stock

Dr Karin Rühling/TU Dresden, Dr Frank Heidrich/BMWi and Werner Lutsch/AGFW discussed international research activities with the participants
© BINE Informationsdienst

“Solar thermal energy is becoming an integral part of district heating”

Traditional district heating is converging with solar thermal energy: researchers and engineers presented new technologies for integrating solar thermal systems into the heating provision at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy's status workshop entitled “Solar thermal energy in district heating”, which was held at the end of September in Dresden. In addition, the workshop also provided insights into current developments in Europe and worldwide.

What proportion of solar thermal energy is provided in local and district heating systems? What contribution can it make to Germany’s “Wärmewende” – its heating transition? And what are the future research priorities? These were the questions focussed on during the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s status workshop on “Solar thermal energy in district heating”, which was held last week in Dresden.

The political goal of the heating transition is clear: the heating provision for buildings and districts in urban and rural areas shall be consequently further developed. At the opening, Dr Frank Heidrich, head of the “Heat and Efficiency in Buildings, Research” Directorate at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, said that this strategic goal makes a significant contribution to the entire energy transition and asked for input from researchers and the expert community on further research needs in this area. This shall be taken into account in the future 7th Energy Research Programme instigated by the German Federal Government.

The fact that more than two-thirds of those participating came from municipal utilities and power supply companies underlines the high esteem that solar thermal energy has currently achieved in the industry. Successful examples show how solar thermal systems feed into district heating networks and are also economic. For example, the largest solar thermal plant in Germany in Senftenberg can supply up to 10,000 households. With a collector area of 8,300 square metres (tube collectors) and up to 5 MW of output, it already delivered more than the expected yield of 4 GWh to the district heating network during the first year of operation.

The plant in Chemnitz with 2,136 square metres of collector area (flat-plate collectors) has also been in operation for over a year and supplies a low-temperature network in the urban district of Brühl. The results are in line with the expected yield of 859 MWh/year.

New developments in the district heating provision are eagerly awaited for the town of Hennigsdorf near Berlin. A key role will be played here in future by a heat storage unit that holds 22,000 cubic metres of water and which shall be used as a buffer tank. In addition, it is planned to utilise waste heat from the steel plant. The town of Hennigsdorf is one of fifty partners in the WindNODE project, which forms part of the SINTEG Smart Energy Showcases funding programme. The project is set to start at the end of 2017.

The further development of the heating provision is supported by a new funding announcement from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, which is funding the Heating Networks 4.0 model project with the aim of ensuring the highly efficient and environmentally friendly provision of heating and cooling.



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